Friday, March 25, 2011

In His three-toed footsteps.

This blog was written by my older sibling, who I hope will be a guest blogger often.

I was at lunch with a co-worker who was telling me about a book that she had just finished reading. I can’t remember the name of the book but it was the story of a boy with autism told from his point of view.  Even though he would do things that didn’t make any sense to anyone else they had a certain internal logic to him.
This inevitably led to me remembering how many times parents, ecclesiastical leaders, or self-important friends have told me not to question God because it is impossible to know the mind of God.  It is all in ones points of view.  All the random, cruel things that happen to this world are the will of God.  So, as I sat pondering the imponderable I had an insight that I would like to share with the three or so followers of this blog.
If I try to see things from God’s (this is the human God, not Dino Jesus who has much more important and tasty things to worry about) point of view I realize that His (or Hers if you swing that way) point of view is eerily similar to that of a 14 year old boy.  Let me spell it out for you.  What is God most concerned about?  Sex and violence!  All the big 10 (commandments that is) have something to do with sex or violence (well except for that one that is so narcissistic that it’s not even funny).
Have you ever spent any time with a 14 year old boy? Doesn’t matter the culture, doesn’t matter the parents, doesn’t matter the religion, they are all the same.  Just like God, what are they concerned about?  SEX AND VIOLENCE! (With a healthy helping of narcissism thrown in for good measure).  And what teenager isn’t all knowing?  Intentionally cruel? Unaware of anyone else but themselves?  Quick to Wrath?  Sound like anyone else you have heard of?
I am amazed that as a race we have created deities and imbued them with the personalities of children or that the glorified, perfect, immortal being that billions worship should be sent to his room.  Either way, it makes me sad for those who do not follow in the three-toed footsteps of Dino Jesus.
                For when you saw only one set of footprints in the sand, that was where I had eaten you…”
Footprints in the Sand (Dino Jesus version)

God vs. Google. Who is really more powerful?

The other day I saw a t-shirt which I thought was pretty funny.  It read, "Google is my new god, it answers my questions."  At first glance I thought to myself, "huh, that's clever."  Then I started to give the message some more thought and have concluded that it may not be just a quick, clever, and to some people blasphemous phrase, but may be unequivocally proven correct, at least in the case of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons.  I will now explain.

Growing up in the Mormon church, it became quickly obvious that the "laying on of hands" was extremely important.  Now, don't go all perverted on me and try to make this sound like something it isn't.  I'm just saying that the Mormons believe that they have the Priesthood of God, or in other words the power to act in God's name.  The vast majority of times, this power is used in conjunction with physical touch.  When you are baptized, you are physically held by the arms and dunked under the water.  You then are confirmed a member of the church and given the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  This is done by a group of priesthood holders (men, sorry ladies, no priesthood for you, except for what you can access through your husband, if he is worthy.  Keep him in line ladies, it's your duty.) who place their hands upon your head.  Mormons give blessings of comfort or healing, by the hands on the head bit, and also ordain people (men) to the priesthood in the same manner.  Lots of hands on the head for the Mormons.  As an aside, there are other Christian sect that do similar things.  A slap to the forehead has healed many a southern sick person.

Mormons have built well over 100 very expensive temples all around the world with the idea to allow their members to receive ordinances that are necessary to salvation.  These ordinances are done in a very hands on manner.  (Sometimes a little too hands on.  Awkward.)  Members go to the temple to be married for all eternity, to receive the "Endowment" or given the answers and signs and tokens to be saved.  Converts can go and receive all these ordinances and be sealed together as a family forever.  The second purpose for the temples is to perform saving ordinances, from baptism to eternal marriage, for the deceased.  Mormons believe that everyone must have these ordinances or they can not be saved.  And since they must be done on Earth, in the flesh, they require the members of the church to do them as a proxy for those that are body challenged, i.e. dead.  Mormons believe in the sealing power of the priesthood, that like the scriptures say, that which is sealed on Earth will be sealed in Heaven.  All of these ordinances require a certain ceremony and manner of doing them.  They require touch, the laying on of hands to use the Priesthood of God.  And, they believe that all things are possible with this power.  Impressive huh?

So, with the Power of God so powerful, and all these things done in a special place or by the touch of a priesthood holder, what power in all of creation could possibly over come it?  Who would dare molest or make afraid?  Google.  Or, more specifically, my gmail account.  Hard to believe, but it's true.  When I decided that I no longer believed in the Mormon Church, or religion in general, I sent an e-mail to the church headquarters.  Because of my e-mail, I was informed that all the ordinances that I had received would be null and void.  That if I decided to continue with the removal of my name from the church records, and decided to come back, I would have to be baptized again and have all the other ordinances redone.  Seriously.  So, for God to do something, it requires a special person, with a special power, to touch the person to be effected and therefore achieve the desired result.  However, for Google to erase all that God has done before, it only required a few kilobytes of information to go out over a telephone line.  God requires you to live in a specific way so that you are worthy, give thousands of dollars to the church, spend hours of your time every week in service to the church, travel great distances to the nearest temple, sometimes in another country to receive the hands-on ordinances, and all of that can be erased by a free gmail account.

There you have it.  In the power struggle between God and Google, the t-shirt doesn't lie.  I'm going to go and Google that saying and see if I can buy one of those t-shirts.  Or maybe I'll just pray and see if I can feel where to buy one.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I'm trying to progress eternally. Will you be in my down line?

Utah has one of the highest number of Mult-Level Marketing Companies (hereafter referred to as MLM), per capita, in the country.  This leads me to wonder why that may be.  What would be so special about Utah that could allow for this type of company to flourish here?  Well, the first thing that comes to mind is the Mormon Church.  And really, upon a little thought, we don't have to go any further to find our answer.

First, let me discuss MLMs so those of you that don't have an idea of what I'm talking about will be able to grasp the concept.   MLMs are companies that are loosely related to ponzi schemes.  Let me stress that there are many fine upstanding MLM companies here in Utah that are not some kind of scheme and are not fraudulent.  The MLMs are just very reminiscent of a sophisticated con.  An MLM is designed to be like a pyramid.  Obviously the higher you are on the pyramid the more money you make.  You buy products and sell them, and then sign people up under you to buy products and sell them.  You get a portion of the revenue generated by their sells because they are in your down line.  The down line is  the term for all the people that you sponsor in who are below you on the pyramid.  Most legitimate companies will limit the amount of levels that you can go down so that a critical mass of ponziness isn't reached.  Oh, a ponzi scheme is where you invest and I pay you out at a really high percentage, so you get other people to join and they invest and everybody makes money until we can't find another larger group of suckers to invest and the whole thing come crashing down, with the last people (by far the biggest group) getting hosed, and the people at the top of the pyramid walking away with tons of cash, a la Bernie Madoff.

So, with an MLM you work hard to help out the guy above you on the pyramid, as he gets a portion of your sales.  He also mentors you and assists you in knowing what to do and growing you business.  You then turn around and try to find other people that are willing to sign up under you, so they can help your income grow, and you in turn can assist them in learning what they need to know to become a successful vulture.  I mean business man.

So how does any of this correspond in any way, shape or form to the Mormon Church?  Well, surprisingly, this MLM plan just happens to be almost identical to the Mormon Plan of Salvation.  Stay with me here, because this is going to take a little bit of explaining.  I am also going to throw up a nifty little diagram for your viewing pleasure and edification.

The Mormon Plan of Salvation is what gives the church its ability to get people to look past a number of inconsistencies and silly crap.  The Plan basically says that we lived with God before we came to this earth in a spirit form.  God made bodies for us (by telling our fore parents to get busy.  A lot.  And don't worry about that whole sleeping with your sister thing, because I'm God and can fix all the nasty genetic deformities that your inbreeding is going to net you.)  So we come here to the Earth for our trials and tribulations (mostly mosquitoes and obnoxious bosses that won't let you live the dream.)  Then we die.  If we were good, and after a whole millennium of work (please see my previous blog for an more in depth analysis of this plan) we get saved and go and live with God as a family.  The very best of the best of the best, get to become Gods and start the plan all over.  This is what is so enticing about the Mormon Church to converts.  They get in on the ground floor and if they play their cards right, they can go all the way to the owner of the company.  Power, riches and the ability of fry people in righteous holy fire.  Awesome.  So, the question pops into most members minds after a while, Is God still progressing? Which brings us to the chart.

We will start at the bottom of the chart.  Obviously, since God is eternal and all knowing, and you can neither create or destroy matter, we have always existed in some form or other.  Hence the line on the bottom of the diagram is a true line with no beginning or end.  At some point along that line, God made us spirits and gave us spirit bodies.  This was a start to our Eternal Progression.  So, we spent some time in spirit diapers and having spirit poops and then we matured and finally were ready to get a physical body, where we could have real diapers and real poops, but this was for our own good as the experience would teach us the difference between good and evil.  Having changed a few diapers in my day, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I know what true evil is.  But I digress.  So we go along and then we die.  Eventually, according to Mormon and Christian doctrine, we get resurrected and obtain a new and glorified and immortal body which will be perfect.  If it is perfect then it will have progressed as far as it is possible and we will have reached the end of our physical progression.  No eternal progression on the physical side then.  A perfect body is a perfect body.  It isn't going to get more perfect.  Perfecter?  Whatever.

Well, what about on the spiritual side.  Mormon doctrine teaches that if we are true and faithful we can become Gods and Goddesses.  ( I don't think you get a choice, I think you're stuck in the sex you started out with.  Sorry if you had plans to the contrary)  If you are a god, then you will become all powerful and all knowing.  God can't become more perfect.  So, therefore, after a while you will cease to progress Spiritually also as you will "receive all that the father has."  As you can see from the diagram above, anything in the circle has an end.  So, we have come back to the question of how does Eternal Progression work if on both a spiritual and physical level you reach the top and have no where else to go?

The Eternal MLM is the answer.  In Mormon scripture is says of God that "this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."  This is one of the most important scripture passages in all of Mormondom, because it spells out the mission statement and the compensation plan for the Eternal MLM.  God's work is to make us gods, but it's also his Glory.  Glory my friends, is the currency of the realm. This would explain why God got so ticked at Satan for proposing a different plan at the Council of Heaven.  Satan, according to Mormon teaching, wanted to force everybody to comply with the plan, and make sure they had their down lines in order.  But he wanted the Glory for himself.  He wanted to jump to the head of the pyramid.  Wrong answer snake.  Upon thy belly shalt thou go.  You don't mess with the compensation plan.  And you certainly don't mess with God, who had to work his way through his own world and all the production problems and back ordered blessings and later souls, making sure that he had a healthy down line, just to have some upstart try to take over the company.  No hostile take overs here.  I mean, he was messing with God for God's sake.

So there you have it.  Glory is the currency that is used in the eternities.  God has a bunch of children that he is trying to make Gods.  When that happens, they will still give Glory to him, and in addition, start there own down lines who will worship and give Glory to them and God (I get a little confused, so I will just call him Daddy God, or the only one we know of right now) will still get some residual glory because, as the bible says, the Glory of the Son is the Glory of the Father.  And while this is happening, after this world is done, Daddy God will go out and start another of his own down lines to increase his shares of Glory even more.  Is it any wonder that the Universe is expanding as such a great rate?  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Do I really want to be saved?

A few years back I had an epiphany.  After careful consideration I decided that if I didn't make it to the Celestial Kingdom (the Mormon ultimate heaven, where one can be with God for eternity) that I would probably be OK with that outcome.  Many people will probably be mortified by that statement.  "How can you even contemplate that?", they will ask.  They will most probably be of the mind set that the alternative isn't so great.  I mean, spending all eternity in a fiery hell is not something that most folks aspire to.

That is what was great about growing up Mormon.  Mormons don't believe in a traditional Christian hell.  As an aside from my main point, hell is a concoction of first millennium Christians.  The Jews thought that you would be punished for your sins, but drew the line at the punishment being eternal.  It took the Christians to really put the nastiness in hell, for your torment enjoyment.  Anyway, back to my point, Mormons don't teach Hell.  Oh, they teach enough stuff that may be considered a candidate for an effective torture, and I don't think you would get any arguments about Fast and Testimony meeting being a similitude of what might be expected in Hell, but no actual Hell for the Mormons.  No, for the Mormons, Hell is just not being able to return to the presence of God.

To be fair, I will stipulate that for the true believer returning to the presence of your creator should be the ultimate goal.  I think the problem is that most people don't really take a good look at what the alternatives are.  They have been told that to miss the mark and not obtain "exaltation" would be a really bad thing, and that the eternal punishment would be knowing forever that you are shut off from God and not being able to do anything about it. Sounds pretty grim.   But not so fast.  We hear much about freedom of choice, but when it comes down to it, many probably are only getting the high pressure sales pitch for option one (Exaltation or Celestial Kingdom) without really knowing what other options are out there.  Therefore, I propose to explain my thinking in this matter.  It may be that after knowing all the facts, and seeing your options, you decide to shoot for the stars, but if you miss and hit the moon, that won't be so bad either.

Option 1 (Church Preferred)

You live an exceptional life.  You give of your time, talents, money and all you possess to the furthering of the Kingdom of God on earth.  This entails depriving yourself of many fun and interesting things to do here on Earth. Furthermore, you have a part time job, besides your real job that puts food on the table, for your entire life, namely whatever church calling you have.  Also as part of your time commitment you must go to meetings, home teach, help people move, put in sprinkler systems, and overall not have the ability to say no to any request that is in your earthly power to actually perform.  Then you die.

Upon your death you will spend some time in "Paradise."  This sound really great, except the work doesn't stop here.  On the other side of some kind of force field are all the souls in "Spirit Prison."  This is where people who haven't had the opportunity to hear about all the work they didn't know they had to do (ie. the Gospel) will get a chance to hear about it from you.  You will be a busy bee in the afterlife teaching these billions of poor souls and giving them the chance to accept the gospel, so that your compatriots down on Terra Firma, who are still trying to do all the things they can't/aren't allowed to say no to, can baptize the lost souls by proxy.  Settle down to the work, because this will take a few thousand years to get all cleaned up once the world finally ends.  Whenever that is.  Possibly 22 months from now if you are lucky and the Mayans are right.

So we move forward past all the tediousness and get to the good stuff.  All the people have been sorted out into one of the three kingdoms of glory that they have earned by their actions in their earthly probation.  You, being one of the hard working elect have made it to the Celestial Kingdom.  Sweet.  You are now in line to have all that the Father has.  All knowing, all powerful, and the ability to continue your progression by helping other spirits, that you will create, to get to where you are.

So you and your wife/wives get busy and start creating spirit children.  When the house gets full and you can't take the constant noise, your first born and some others help you create a world and you start putting spirits into bodies.  Because you had to go through it, you decide to stick to the plan and make it really hard for people to actually believe in you.  You do this by making your children forget all about you when they are born and then go out of your way to not really give them any concrete proof that you exist.  If they really bugged you when they were spirit children, you may even sprinkle in some "proof" that you know they will interpret incorrectly to believe that you don't exist.  Just off the top of my head, maybe some large bones and fossils that will lead them to think of evolution and that the world you made a few thousand years ago is really billions of years old.  I mean, what is the point of being a god if you can't have any fun at it?  Sorry, I digress.

Option 2 (Preferred by me)

So, I tried to be good, but I read some books and looked up some stuff on the Internet (and no, not necessarily porn, but other important stuff) and kind of went a different direction and now I'm dead and not going to the Celestial Kingdom.  What do I have to look forward to?  Well, the Mormons teach that everybody, regardless of their actions on Earth, will get a resurrected, perfect body.  Joseph Smith stated that if you could see the lowest kingdom ( the one that the really bad people will end up in, called the Telestial Kingdom) you would kill yourself to get there.  It is that beautiful.  So, I figure I'm not that bad, so I'm ending up in the second kingdom, or Terrestrial Kingdom.

Since I missed the target and won't become a god, I will no longer be married.  The marriage to my spouse is for time and all eternity, but only if I achieve salvation.  If not, no marriage for me.  I will not have the power to create new spirit children, as this is reserved to those Exalted Ones.  Also, there is no work for me to do, as all the important stuff is done in regards to my probation, and the new gods are going and doing their thing, and I'm not allowed to be in there presence.

If you haven't seen the possibilities in this scenario yet, allow me to spell them out.  I will have a perfect body, one that is incapable of producing children (can you say spiritual tube tying/vasectomy).  I like to think along the lines of a Greek Adonis.  I will be unmarried.  Half of all the billions of people, who also have perfect bodies, will be of the opposite sex.  The trial is done, I've been cut off, and there is no more sin and nothing really more to do.  I'm sure you now see the potential.

So, there you have it.  I have spelled out both options for you to make an informed decision.  You can work really hard to obtain all the power in the universe, so that you will be able to continue to work really hard.  Or, there is always the eternal orgy.  So what I'm saying is; if you so choose, go ahead and shoot for the stars, but if you miss and hit the moon, you may enjoy the ride.  Literally.