I'd like to initiate this thread by sharing some details about Mormon Fundamentalism. I have quite a lot to go over, but hopefully it will be interesting.


Many people have the false impression that there are lurking secret polygamists interwoven within the Mormon mainstream, a holdover myth from the very early 20th century when this was true - since then Salt Lake authorities have entirely extirpated this shadow through fierce policies of zero tolerance, where any sort of association with polygamists will result in immediate excommunication. The Salt Lake-governed state of Utah also has the strictest laws against polygamy in the nation. The most you'll get from them today is the occasional joke, or recognition (without us diving fully into the sacramental theology of marriage sealing) that men can technically be sealed to multiple wives in cases of death and remarriage.

In short, fundamentalist Mormons are today a strictly and entirely distinct denomination, with no overlap. The largest (at least until very recently) and most infamous of this basket of schismatic churches is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) of Warren Jeffs, easily recognized by the solid-pastel prairie dresses of the women.

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The center of this cult (a term I use neutrally) was historically Hildale/Colorado City, sister towns straddling the Utah-Arizona border not far from St George, in the shadow of soaring red sandstone cliffs. Known as Short Creek prior to a disastrous government raid in 1953, the settlement was first established in the 1930s as the early-century dust settled following the public break from polygamy by the LDS church in 1890.

The below table is illuminating, and for good reason I've heard it said that Utah is really a part of New England.

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I should also note, however, that the racial character of the old-stock Mormons is not "purely" Anglo but rather an Anglo-Danish admixture, seen very clearly in many families and surnames. And while it's true that much of the cultural heritage comes straight from the religion's New England cradle, even the Anglo portion of the stock is much more composed of directly imported mid-19th century English immigrants than it is of "old Americans", though there's enough of that mixed in that more often than not they'll have at least some amount of colonial heritage.

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Anyway, onto our main topic, their actual practices.

First, FLDS settlements are composed of property held in a collective trust, the United Effort Plan (UEP), controlled by the church leadership. Individual families live on plots within these holdings, and do not, and can not, legally own any property directly. This concept comes directly out of older 19th-century Mormon collectivist efforts, which were never as fully realized in their time as they are here. "Collectivization" here is focused less on the actual sharing of means and more on the separation of insider from outsider, a framework of private ownership according to inward laws rather than outward (hostile) magistrates, a sort of state-within-a-state, where it is harder for the individual to be legally addressed by government authority, and where the stakes for exit are higher.

While we're discussing interactions with government, the fundamentalists have tended to get in trouble through their habit of using plural wives for welfare fraud (sending them to file as single mothers), a practice they themselves refer to as "bleeding the beast" (bravo). Other problems come from the excess young men which they simply exile into homelessness and drug addiction among the general population of Utah.

Mormon fundamentalists are unique in that polygamy is seen as not only permitted, but required for full salvation. There are no monogamists in heaven. This could probably use some further thought and analysis, seeing it come out of a cultural backdrop with deeply monogamist mores, as opposed to say, Islam, where some degree of polygamy was just always there. Only the unthinkable can become the transcendental, I suppose.

Central to their particular practice is "placement marriage", a sort of top-down arranged marriage system where all arrangements are considered to come from divine revelation by the prophet (absolute ruler). Any kind of courtship is strictly prohibited. Once a placement is made, based on the behavior of the husband, his wives and children can be freely taken away and reassigned as means of divine punishment or reward, so that a man who has been naughty might very well see his neighbor gifted not only his wives but also his daughters, now to be regarded as sister-wives themselves. As you can imagine the genealogy gets rather messy, and like any such tightly-closed group they have their share of endemic genetic diseases. (Gossipy mainline LDS women give rumors that their counterparts are developing issues with losing their hair, though I've seen no evidence of this personally.) The prophet himself, of course, has a lot of wives, as young as 13.

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The women, along with their distinctive prairie dresses, can be recognized by the style of their hair, "done-up" in the front so as to help contain it. They are forbidden to cut their hair in any way throughout their lives, as it's considered sacred, and in some way connected to the Biblical imagery by which, in their final celestial glory, she will use her hair to ceremonially wash the feet of her husband.

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A supposed practice which I find much more questionable, but which is claimed to exist by mentioned gossipy women, is that of "seed bearers", the formal marriage of a man and woman where the "husband" is forbidden from touching her sexually, but where she is instead impregnated by another duly called man. Supposedly this is rather ritualistic, with the husband even perhaps there to hold the hand of the wife. This is likely connected to other rumors of the open coital rituals inside the temple, effectively transmogrifying the group into some sort of Ishtaric fertility cult. Again, I cannot verify these parts.

There are many other laws which they practice, very strict and detailed ones including a prohibition on wearing the color red (as Christ will be wearing upon his return, dyed by the trampled blood of the wicked), and the usual assortment of restrictions on outside entertainment and influence that you'd find in any totalitarian cult. They are also, I should mention, extremely racist.

Now some more recent history. Since the arrest of Warren Jeffs for child sexual assault in 2006, the group has been in steady decline, despite their various efforts to regroup. At their height they had expanded from Colorado City to a large temple compound in Texas, subject to a raid in 2008 where the government took custody of 416 children. (Similar to the Short Creek raid a half-century earlier, this ended up being a PR disaster for the government.) Colorado City itself was subject to a heavy hand, with their trust dissolved and property given back to its occupants for direct ownership, or else sold off. As of my visit a couple years ago, there were no practicing FLDS to be found in the area (but the neighboring Centennial Park group, which broke off from the FLDS in 1986, is thriving to fill the vacuum). Their colony in Pinesdale, Montana seems to have faced a similar fate, from what I could tell in stopping by. Of their outpost in British Columbia, which apparently has broken off under the authority of some Winston Blackmore, I can't speak. Perhaps this will prove the most vital remnant going forward. From what I can tell the most recent action against Blackmore was in 2018, when he was merely sentenced to six months' house arrest. As of that time he has 27 wives and 150 children.

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The greatest portion of the remaining FLDS flock was gathered up by Warren's brother into a tightly-sealing monolithic compound in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where births and deaths for a few years were able to occur without any government knowledge or record, but as of January 2021 this too has been dismantled. I've come across them here and there by chance, but where they're basing themselves out of, I couldn't say.

Most images taken from "Sons of Perdition", an okay documentary from 2010 if you find this interesting.
While I won't abuse this thread to air my grievances, now that it's on my mind, and having been entwined among the Mormons for some 5 years with another year and a half remaining before I can loose myself, I will say, as strange and perverse as the above mutation is, they are still much closer in spirit to Joseph Smith (the greatest and mightiest man this country ever produced) than the modern-day church of Mitt Romney. I could go on forever on this, but will restrain myself unless invited. Truly though, study the life of Smith, if you want to know how to be useful in the hands of God. This is not endorsement of the specificity of his ideas, for which I'll say that God and the Devil were both very much concerned with his life.
Closest shot we have at an ethno-religion imo. Fumbled in the late 70s and reversed the ruling about negro races being banned who were cursed with black skin as punishment over negligence in the mormon war in heaven (apparently). Righteous and Holy people would be described as "White and delightsome" arische rasse.

"Nephi's seed would “rejoice,” for then “they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and a delightsome people.”  

Special underwear aside they seem more religious than modern protestants or catholics. BYU is under siege by the libshit scourge but out of any religious group I'm betting on them making it out of this gauntlet. Mormonism's strength is creating this sense of "other" on the basis of faith and race. Upon meeting mormons and fundamentalist Christians my only critique is on the basis that some of the followers come off like complete pacifistic herbivores - the opposite of what is needed right now. 

On another note it's funny whenever a white compound/polygamous situation arises it gets immediate full force media/gov establishment attention. Reporters swarming the scene. Childless cosmopolitan women checking up and commenting on mormon polygamous families in "seeking sister wife"  on youtube sometimes 5-8 years after the show stopped airing/
The LDS church fumbled much earlier than the 70s, forever losing its way with the abandonment of polygamy in 1890, not because of the polygamy itself but because of what it more generally entailed. Brigham Young's desert Kingdom of God, seeing itself as a separate nation, was traded in for full socio-political integration with the mainstream life of the US. Everything, including the lifting of the black priesthood ban in '78, was inevitably downstream from there, with only a decade's delay. We'll see how long they're able to hold out with the gay stuff.

The church today is very firmly anti-racist. The old stock in Utah is still there, but the church's real growth is all in Latin America and Africa, and as a monolithic international organization, that's where the focus is. Every message is very simple "find peace and comfort in Jesus Christ" type stuff. "Peace and comfort" is indeed the ultimate aim in life, other than their progressive "personal development", and anything that sparks feelings other than passive motherly yawarakasa is considered to come from the devil, and to be shut down. Speaking of "pacifist herbivores", consider the resounding message of their General Conference only yesterday:
(Note also the constant promotion of images of black women.)

Here personal conflict and literal armed conflict are conflated and equally condemned. Any sort of argument or disagreement is silenced in the church by the phrase "contention is of the devil", resulting in the characteristically avoidant, passive-aggressive personality of its cultural core:

The concept of "righteous contention" is here self-contradictory: the devil IS contention itself. With the proper emphasis we can build a Buddhism out of anything. But this is slightly libelous of me, as there is real dormant aggression under their deeply internalized behavioral facade.

Re: "more religious", this I concede. Even with all the ugliness piled on top, the foundation, unlike that of the Platonic trinitarians, is still real, living, Old Testament religion. For all their faults, I don't really see them going anywhere anytime soon.

Yet o how betrayed is Joseph Smith!

"The Prophet inculcates the notion, and it is believed by every true Mormon, that Smith’s prophecies are superior to the laws of the land. I have heard the Prophet say that he would yet tread down his enemies, and walk over their dead bodies; and if he was not let alone, he would be a second Mohammed to this generation, and that he would make it one gore of blood from the Rocky mountains to the Atlantic ocean; that like Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was, ‘the Alcoran or the Sword,’ so should it be eventually with us, ‘Joseph Smith or the Sword.’ These last statements were made during the last summer. The number of armed men at Adam-ondi-Ahman was between three and four hundred.”

In the final years of his life, Joseph preferred his title of Lieutenant General of the Nauvoo Legion even to his title of Prophet, and this is how he signed all his correspondence during that period.

Perhaps you could draw parallel with the Münster rebellion and the strictly pacifist Anabaptists that have survived today.
Since I've been thinking about attitudes towards sex coming out of discussion on PUAs, I'd like to write a bit on its role within the Mormon faith, the history of its development, and my own take on its theological strength and limitations.

The polygamy of Joseph Smith, other than a short-lasted affair with a servant girl early in his career, was a late development, coming about at the peak of his power at Nauvoo, after his flock had been sequentially gathered and scattered at other places, himself having been jailed and released, and so on. As their ruler, he was worshiped as the ever-charismatic prophet of what was then the largest city in Illinois, overshadowing the young Chicago. This was also the period that saw the most radical theological divergences. Needless to say, even for a man who had shown no great interest in seductive scoundrelousness before, he was in a position where exploitation would be trivial, and where temptation, for him, proved too much.

Even then, as the critical narrative goes, he had too much Puritan blood to go about such things without internal moral justifications. Notions of "spiritual marriage" had already been passed around in various American utopian communities, and this he adapted to draw a distinction between earthly marriage, that is, the existing marriages of the men and their wives around him, and "spiritual", "celestial", or (as would become all-important later, almost by accident of circumstantial innovation) "eternal" marriage. Being entirely different things, earthly marriage and spiritual marriage were now free to overlap, without one requiring any regard for the other. Thus polygamy, under Joseph Smith, was just as much polyandrous as it was polygynous.

By proper priestly authority, and only by such, what is bound on earth is bound in heaven - thus, to be married spiritually to a woman means to be married to her for all celestial eternity, and heaven itself is composed of the web of such ties. Whether all of Smith's "marriages" were sexual in nature, or whether we should believe that at least some portion of them (if not all, depending on the biases of the commentator) were "for eternity only", is hard to say. Their ages ranged from 14 into the 50s. In any case, I see no reason to believe that this doctrine was any sort of trick or excuse: he genuinely intended to become eternally bound to whatever sort of partner he took upon himself. The great crime of Don Juan is not in his taking, but in his subsequent abandonment. When John C. Bennett, the traitor who would finally be responsible for his demise, observed the outward behavior and began to imitate, not bothering with the intricate rites and formalities, Joseph was furious at this disgusting act of irreligion.

After his death, when Brigham Young would take the reigns, and eventually be responsible for transforming what had been a cult into a genuine kingdom (another incredibly great and mighty man, but in different ways), the polyandry and "overlap" of marriages was done away with, so that marriage of flesh and marriage of spirit were entirely one and the same. In the great spiritual significance of this development, the polygyny was really incidental, and even today, without it, the notion of marriage as not an earthly rite but a saving sacrament, as a thing which binds souls together for eternity and jointly makes their salvation possible, continues.

Of all the great (yet so often confused) insights and true understandings of the Mormon religion, this is the one I find greatest - yet does not go far enough. In the very literally-inclined mind of today's Utah Mormon, they imagine celestial marriage as essentially the same as earthly marriage, but without end: they hang out as man and wife in heaven, having spiritual children (which will themselves become embodied on earth, but we don't have time to talk about their general cosmology), basically like Greek gods.

I think they rather miss the point. When a man and woman is sealed together (or a man and his great loving friend, as was done formerly under Joseph and Brigham), it isn't merely a pinky-promise to hang out together in heaven: it is an expression of intent for full and existential union, the forming of a joint being, so that this "web of eternal existence" is not static, but rather grows and joins into a singular point, the final union, all-penetrating knowledge, and all-penetrating love of all things, and even then (as the Mormons correctly assess) without any end to continued outward growth, without ever becoming static. This web, joined as it is at the top, is also joined at the bottom: all souls share the same origin, from which they split and emerge by traduce, growing in their endlessly variant beauty and strength, before finally being able to meet again. Here only is salvation, where else is dissolution, for death precedes the interlopation of eternal life, and that which is not joined with the eternal God is lost, and that which is lost is dead.

Here then is my take on the fornicator: I don't talk about such things like the memey Catholic, whether legal marriage has been done in the proper order or what have you, but by the intent of the act. If by it you recognize the significance of the rite, and genuinely seek to be eternally bound to the other, with all pain, horror, and responsibility that comes with it, I care nothing for the law. If instead you defile the rite itself, treating the sign of your connection to another as a cheap commodity of entertainment, I wish nothing for you but hellfire (hoping then that you might be corrected in your destructive folly, as every foolish young man needs to be at some point - the Mormons, as well, are not believers in an eternal damnation, except where such is chosen.)

P.S. Thanks for moving this thread - I was just about to suggest the same thing.

Amended as "Further Reading":

Just who was Christ? And what then have the Jews done, beyond merely crucifying their own God?
mormonism strikes me as an appealing, ascendant, 'cindy' religion made by the new worlder for the new worlder. as the american has drifted away from europe and developed his own distinct culture and civilization it is only natural that the confessions which dominate the old world are simply not suited to the context of america--i can hardly imagine the appeal of catholicism absent the mystique and splendor of the magnificent cathedrals with which europe is so richly populated. pentecostals, evangelicals, and whatever those electric guitar "masses" are supposed to be are all a direct result of the new worlder's unique character needing his own way to apprehend the universal truth of God, but the mormons above all others are clearly poised to become the 'catholics of america' as it were. just as well, because they are also the most fit, with a holistic reinterpretation of christianity that immunizes them against the most pressing threats of modernity and empowers them to advance their interests. if i were in my heart a new world man i would convert.
Mormons as the present and future "Catholics of America" is a very good analysis I think. This is, however, a terrible outcome for them - they had potential for so much more.
(04-10-2022, 01:52 AM)parsifal Wrote: mormonism strikes me as an appealing, ascendant, 'cindy' religion made by the new worlder for the new worlder. as the american has drifted away from europe and developed his own distinct culture and civilization it is only natural that the confessions which dominate the old world are simply not suited to the context of america--i can hardly imagine the appeal of catholicism absent the mystique and splendor of the magnificent cathedrals with which europe is so richly populated. pentecostals, evangelicals, and whatever those electric guitar "masses" are supposed to be are all a direct result of the new worlder's unique character needing his own way to apprehend the universal truth of God, but the mormons above all others are clearly poised to become the 'catholics of america' as it were. just as well, because they are also the most fit, with a holistic reinterpretation of christianity that immunizes them against the most pressing threats of modernity and empowers them to advance their interests. if i were in my heart a new world man i would convert.
I've considered Mormonism to have far more in common with Islam than Catholicism. At least, I find that Joseph Smith is a character very similar to Muhummad: a warrior prophet. And with that comes the accusations that the religion was invented to legitimise the political ambitions of its 'prophet'.
(04-18-2022, 08:38 AM)Verl Wrote: I've considered Mormonism to have far more in common with Islam than Catholicism. At least, I find that Joseph Smith is a character very similar to Muhummad: a warrior prophet. And with that comes the accusations that the religion was invented to legitimise the political ambitions of its 'prophet'.

An Islam that devolved and mutated into a Catholicism over time, as I said before - though that's not to say the Mormons and the Catholics are at a level, today. The Catholics are much farther along as a magisterial nothing-religion, while the Mormons remain highly organized, serious about what it is they do, and internally coherent (the Mormon who sins will be punished - in what other "Church" does that remain the case?) But what I mean is that, since the release of the Manifesto, they've placed themselves on that same course, only with a delay. For all their organization, they've been able to turn themselves into nothing but a well-organized African charity, and have structurally ensured that they'll never be able to become anything else.

Calling Joseph Smith ambitious would be accurate (and an understatement), but his ambitions as a prophet came long before his ambitions as a political leader, unless we mean the extent to which the prophet role was itself political from the beginning. He was running for president when he was killed, but this was something that came only at the height of his power, after, as I said, he switched from "Prophet" to "General" in his own eyes. Really the entire first phase of Mormon history is just the tale of a powerful young man flexing his muscles and seeing what he can do in the free world of the open frontier (with both the help and hindrance of God along the way).

For their parallels (which are real), Joseph and Muhammad are also fundamentally different in a lot of ways. Remember that the latter wasn't visited by Gabriel until the age of 40 (and his actual preaching when he was 43), and his flock, at least from my casual reading of the Koran, was physically militant from the beginning, even if only as a means of defense. As for Joseph, violence was always something that sat in potentiality, carefully restrained but never disavowed, the ambiguity of the gentle and peace-loving but also shamelessly powerful. Joseph received the golden plates at age 22, and his Church was formally established when he was 25. (By his own account his first vision of God was at the age of 15, and his initial visitation by Moroni leading up to reception of the plates was at 18.) This is to say, while Muhammad began his career already fully developed as a man, Joseph went through all the development of a young man together with his flock, young love Emma being his first convert (as opposed to the familiar fat old Khadija). By the time of his death at 38 he hadn't even reached what had been the beginning for Muhammad.

I'll follow up on this a bit later with some scriptural parallels between the two Korans, and general comparison of rhetoric and self-understanding.
Muhammad and Joseph are each, in the eyes of their respective faith, a continuation of the "line of prophets" which have, it is supposed, spanned all ages and places, God sending his messengers among the various peoples as he pleases: Muhammad to the Ishmaelites, Joseph to the Americans (and the supposed Book of Mormon prophets to the Indians). In both cases Jesus is the penultimate prophet, after which follows an apostasy and restoration through the prophet in question, bringing in the final dispensation of God's word before the last days. Both are considered universally authoritative, with their being sent among a specific people a form of blessing which elevates them to the position of neo-Israelites.

Quote:[To the Ishmaelites:] Our Lord, make a messenger of their own rise up from among them, to recite Your revelations to them, teach them the Scripture and wisdom, and purify them... [To the Jews:] That community passed away. What they earned belongs to them, and what you earn belongs to you: you will not be answerable for their deeds.

Quote:Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? ... Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? ... And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure.

Both view the Bible as being more or less corrupt (having been passed through the hands of innumerable scribes with various agendas, as opposed to the "pure" Koran or Book of Mormon). In the case of Muslims this means they don't consider it canon at all, while the Mormons still retain it, but not as a primary authority (or modified, as an optional reference point, by heavy annotating and re-writing at the hand of Joseph, an unfinished work).

Quote:People of the Book, why do you mix truth with falsehood?
So woe to their learned people, who write the Scriptures with their own hands and then say to the people, "This is from Allah," so that they might gain some paltry worldly end.
Quote:...philosophies of men, mingled with scripture... [a description of Nicene Christianity]
...thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God. And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles...

Both have the understanding of continuing or summing up all that has come before, not of displacing any previous divine word in favor of another, but of "confirming" it. Mormons and Muslims both distinctively (and very unlike the Catholics in rhetoric and focus) see themselves as inheritors of the authority of Abraham and Moses just as much as that of Jesus. Stressed also is that in this fulfillment and restoration, the religion they practice is the simple, original, Hermetic religion of Adam, which God seeks to restore continually but is so often thwarted by the never-ending wickedness of men and their philosophies.

Quote:We gave Moses the Scripture and We sent messengers after him in succession. We gave Jesus, son of Mary, clear signs and strengthened him with the holy spirit. So how is it that, whenever a messenger brings you something you do not like, you become arrogant, calling some impostors and killing others? ... When it is said to them, 'Believe in God's revelations,' they reply, 'We believe in what was revealed to us,' but they do not believe in what came afterwards, though it is the truth confirming what they already have.
They say, 'Become Jews or Christians, and you will be rightly guided.' Say, 'No, ours is the religion of Abraham, the upright, who did not worship any gods besides God.' So say, 'We believe in God and in what was sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and what was given to Moses, Jesus, and all the prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we devote ourselves entirely to Him.' ... Or are you saying that Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes were Jews or Christians?
True Religion, in God's eyes, is islam. [here a descriptor, not a denomination]
Quote:And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible. ... Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews? ... Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? ... And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever. Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.
We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. ...indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things.

Following this spirit of confirmation, both contain gestures to the basic goodness and truthfulness of the People of the Book, even if limited and not containing the "fullness of truth" possessed by the restored religion.

Quote:The [Muslim] believers, the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabians - all those who believe in God and the Last Day and do good - will have their rewards with their Lord. No fear for them, nor will they grieve.
(I don't really have an equivalent Mormon quote for the above, but their doctrines of a tiered salvation based on relative goodness and acceptance of truth, with opportunity for acceptance after death, generally covers it. Contemporary LDS rhetoric goes much further in this ecumenical direction.)

There is also the below parallel, which there isn't much to say about other than the oddness of how close they are.

Quote:If you have doubts about the revelation We have sent down to Our servant, then produce a single sura like it - enlist whatever supporters you have other than God - if you truly think you can. If you cannot do this - and you never will - then beware of the Fire prepared for the disbelievers, whose fuel is men and stones.
Quote:Now, seek ye out of the Book of Commandments, even the least that is among them, and appoint him that is the most wise among you; Or, if there be any among you that shall make one like unto it, then ye are justified in saying that ye do not know that they are true; But if ye cannot make one like unto it, ye are under condemnation if ye do not bear record that they are true.

One might be tempted to point to some other, more specific things, such as polygamy or abstinence from alcohol, but in the case of the latter this didn't really come about as a firm teaching until the 1920s (they simply never ended prohibition after embracing it), and the former I've previously addressed as having very different roots and context.
After witnessing certain representative events this Mother's Day, I'd like to enlighten readers somewhat concerning the most embarrassing element of contemporary Mormonism: their worship of women.

But first, some general background regarding women in the Church. Mormonism was always moderately "feminist" for its time, as far as radical religious sects go.

In its purely lay clergy, all male members are ordained to a position in the Priesthood, with authority to bless, baptize, etc. through linear succession from Joseph Smith. This order of priesthood is also rigidly hierarchical - all are given a place for involvement, none a place for dissent.

Women have never been able to hold the Priesthood in any form, and with the inherent connection between priestly offices and positions of authority, this effectively shuts them out of any leadership position outside of specific auxiliary organizations such as the women's and children's sunday school structures. This is to be expected for a self-respecting church, but is subject to some pressure today from the most liberal congregants, though it shows no signs of changing.

On the other hand, the voice of women in the church (literally speaking) was always open and prominent, and certainly today, when one listens to lay sermons from the pulpit, whether at local meetings or international conferences, it will be some Mormon housewife about half the time. This also goes back to Joseph Smith, whose exegesis of Paul overwrites prohibitions on women "speaking" in churches with merely a prohibition on them "ruling" in churches.

For his time this was rather liberal, though as American society has "progressed", and the balance in the church has remained the same, outward views have switched to the other side, seeing them as patriarchal and regressive on account of their "family-centered" culture which still dares to gently promote stay-at-home moms.

Now, to our actual topic, beginning with its theological foundation. Probably the most radical doctrine found in the Book of Mormon, appearing early in the work, goes as follows:

And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

Funnily enough, the assertion that Adam and Eve "would have had no children" had the Fall not occurred remains entirely unexplained in the Church today, though from a non-Mormon reading it seems obviously the influence of vague Western Christian associations between the sin in question and the sexual act. "Well", it reads, "if Adam and Eve didn't procreate, how would any of us be here?" In any case, the effective point of this passage is to teach that the Fall of Man was necessary and good, and planned by God from the beginning. The exact details of how this all fits together in their system of understanding, carefully crafted into a coherent whole by the early 20th century, is beyond our current scope.

As it relates to our topic, the implications of this doctrine of a good and necessary Fall are taken much further in the scripted drama of the esoteric Temple ordinances (now presented in the form of a cheesy film), which began its earliest development in the final year's of Joseph's life and was brought into full form by Brigham Young, since then occasionally refined. Without quoting from it directly (on the offchance that forewarned acts of graphic violence be performed against me), it teaches in effect that, after having first approached Adam in the garden and meeting no success, Satan then approached Eve, and, rather than tempting with lies, explains why they should eat of the fruit in a manner exactly in line with Mormon teaching, in which Eve herself sees the necessity, eats of it, and then instructs Adam to eat of it by the same (it is proposed) true and honest explanation. This consists of a reiteration and elaboration of the passage previously quoted, featuring the necessity of perceiving sensory opposites as well as obedience to the commandment of "multiplying and replenishing the earth" - they could not obey both commandments, but had to choose to break one for the sake of the other, it is taught.

The effect of all this today, which you'll hear said by way of analogy when the topic of relations between men and women is brought up (including from the pulpit), is that in the garden Adam was a stubborn, uninsightful "knucklehead", whereas Eve, being so much more spiritually attuned, "knew what was going on." This is taken further in this oft-repeated conversational script by saying that women in the Church don't hold the Priesthood for the reason that they don't need it, but that by its acquisition it enables men to bring themselves closer to women's natural spiritual level. Usually what comes before this strange self-effacing sermon is flowery reflection on how the man's wife in particular is a spiritually perfect goddess whom he doesn't deserve and so on and so forth, which thrust of flattery isn't unheard of generally, but in this context takes on an unnerving sincerity.

It's been proposed to me that all this started as defensive jokey refrains by late-20th century Mormon men who found themselves commented on by coworkers for their household regressiveness, but that over time the adage applied concerning those who entertain themselves by pretending to be idiots. Whether this is an accurate history I can't say, but regardless, the effect today from what I've observed is that where the goal for men in their life is spiritual perfection, and the model for spiritual perfection is women, you're soon dealing with the sort of spineless, passive-aggressive male humans with which anyone who's spent significant time in a Mormon setting will be familiar.

If only we were done. Here I must back up a little, and give enough relevant context in their general theology without deviating from our focus. In the Mormon understanding, all life is a schoolhouse. Men, individually, are children of God the Father, which lived with him before, and were sent down upon the earth in order to be educated (via sin and the refinement necessary for its avoidance) and to gain physical bodies in imitation of the physical body of God, to one day be reunited with him, our memories of prior life restored, and live eternally as a divine family.

The effect of this, both generally and on the interpretation of specific events, is that no genuine, uncontrolled evil can exist in the world. All things that happen are done to test, teach, and self-improve man, with Satan as mere instrument to this end. We leave home, go to school under close supervision, and then come back to Father... and Mother. Oh dear.

There was no record made of this doctrine by Joseph Smith, the existence of a wife to God, though there are anecdotal claims to his having taught it. For pretty much all of the church's history the idea has floated around, sometimes (and increasingly today) being referencing rather factually and authoritatively, but never formally set in doctrinal stone outside of hymns, most prominently the one still sung today composed by Eliza Snow shortly after Joseph's death:

In the heavens are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare.
Truth is reason: truth eternal
tells me I've a mother there.

When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
in your royal courts on high?

Despite the lack of scriptural canonization, this doctrine sits right on the cusp on being a full, mandatory teaching, so that denying it (I have to imagine though have never seen it tested) would result in informal ecclesiastical "talking-to". With this, the most radical of liberal congregants have taken to praying to "Heavenly Mother", either alongside or even in place of "Heavenly Father", which is officially proscribed but (I can attest) tolerated in particular settings and regions, so much so that you can find declarations of such from the pulpit, or even such prayers themselves conducted from that position.

We switch topics yet again. In the late 20th century, as conservative Protestant churches shifted their rhetoric toward being "family-centered" (the collective response they decided on, for whatever reason, toward the sexual revolution and antisocial mass media - much could probably be said about this in itself), the LDS church did the same, but doubling down on it in a way uniquely strengthened and connected to their theology of eternal marriage. "Eternal families" became the new central pillar of the church, both inwardly and outwardly, so that much of what tangibly motivates young Mormons to remain faithful is the prospect of being able to "be with my family forever" (sweet, I suppose, but let the retention rates of young men - and the type that stick around - speak for themselves), and as critics point out, the prospect of being torn away from their families in the hereafter if they do not. This reflects itself in their vision of outsiders and missionary work, that (especially in the young women) it excites them to share the message that "families can be together forever", as if the average Protestant thinks God will put them in solitary confinement in heaven. Another hymn, this one originally written for children's classes but, like quite a few, loved enough by doting toddler choir mothers to be carried over for full services:

I have a fam’ly here on earth.
They are so good to me.
I want to share my life with them through all eternity.

Fam’lies can be together forever
Through Heav’nly Father’s plan.
I always want to be with my own family,
And the Lord has shown me how I can.
The Lord has shown me how I can.

Returning to Heavenly Mother, it's said that the reason for her lack of involvement is, like her earthly counterpart, her over-protectiveness: she would never have gone along with our Father's plan to send us out into the rough world, and so is kept for now at a distance.

What then is heaven, after all? The domestic home, elevated. And who rules over it? The suburban Utah soccer mom, elevated.

My conclusion in all this is to make the general case that Soccer Mom Theosis is inevitably downstream from "women are spiritually superior to men, actually", which itself is inevitably downstream from "the fall of Adam was a good thing, actually", one of the first doctrines you will come across if flipping open the Book of Mormon, which first propelled Joseph Smith into prophethood. I will, in many cases, defend the Mormon tradition as the strongest branch of Christianity to exist, among its competitors, but even then must confess that it was doomed from the start.

Keyed. Now THIS is lore.
(05-16-2022, 02:04 AM)Trep Wrote: Keyed. Now THIS is lore.

Ah the classic. Most of the content technically has some sort of historical backing, but is pieced together from the most far-out speculative teachings that happened under Brigham Young in the mid/late-19th century, much of which was never established authoritatively and in any case certainly wouldn't be taught today. On the other hand, despite being very "inclusive", the creator is pretty well-researched and effectively sums up a lot of big-picture concepts accurately.

One piece that seems to be totally made up, or at least which I've never seen any source for, is the idea that Joseph Smith was a direct descendant of Jesus Christ (3:36). It's possible that someone in the 1870s suggested this once, but even then to call it "what Mormons believe" is pretty dishonest.

The greater offence is at 6:06, the supposed claim that Joseph Smith had done more for mankind than any including Jesus Christ. Here the creator seems to have stumbled over some language, innocently or not, in that from shortly after his death it was taught that Joseph Smith did more than any man SAVE Jesus Christ; in other words, the language he's using is actually the opposite of Mormon belief.

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