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Monday, February 20, 2012

So Just Who Do These Mormons Think They Are?

And why should anyone pay attention to them?

In the Book of Mormon, 1 and 2 Nephi, we read of the highly stressful relationship of the two oldest sons of Lehi with their brother Nephi. This young whippersnapper, though he is the the fourth son, keeps taking over the leadership. On the trek back to Jerusalem to obtain the brass plates from Laban, Nephi refuses to allow them to return to their father empty-handed. Even a good beating from them can't make him see the clear sense of the thing.

When his bow breaks he makes a new one, enabling him to continue to hunt and bring fresh meat to the cooking fires. Apparently he thinks they are all dependent on him. Then he gets the crazy idea that he can build a ship. Well, actually he does build or at least supervises the building of the ship. So he wants us to load our wives and children and our aged parents on board this thing and set out on the boundless ocean. What if we get caught in a storm far from land? Another beating ... he deserves it.

Laman and Lemuel seem to be constantly angry. The clear supremacy of their position as the older sons is being threatened, ignored. Why should they bow to the authority of their younger brother? Just who does he think he is?

Now go even further back in time to Joseph the son of Jacob. He had ten older brothers. Joseph is the son of Rachel, the greatly-loved wife, and their father keeps playing favorites. Then we are told of a series of dreams,(Gen. 37:2-11), in which Joseph is shown to take precedence over his older siblings.

They react about like Laman and Lemuel would many centuries later. Not daring to kill the smart-alecky little brother outright, they try to rid themselves of him by selling him to slave traders bound for Egypt. Eventually he is proven right of course, and saves them all from famine.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana

We  see the pattern set by Joseph and his older brothers (and indeed by Cain, the elder brother, and Abel, the favored son) and followed by Laman, Lemuel and Nephi repeating itself in the Christian world today.

In the early decades of the 19th Century, a young boy with the everyday name of Joseph Smith had the temerity to proclaim a new version of the Gospel of Christ.

What?? cried the priests of the old traditions. How dare he? How dare he claim that he knows something of God that we don't know? Haven't we been to seminaries? Don't all those letters after our names mean anything to him? We've studied all the commentaries while he can barely read English. His handwriting is so poor that he must have someone else write down what he dictates. And he talks about translating ancient documents!

Now he claims to have seen God, or rather Gods. God the Father and God the Son; separate beings, he says, when we have proclaimed for centuries that "they" are one, that they have no physical, visible bodies. Joseph Smith hasn't even been to church enough to have learned the Nicene Creed!

Then this lunatic had the nerve to try to tell us what to eat, and how to care for our bodies: eat fresh fruits and vegetables, he said, cut back on the meat. No coffee, tea, alcohol or tobacco, either. (D&C: 89) How does he think men can get together and talk things out without a little nip? Know what I mean?

He raved about space-time: Doctrine and Covenants 130:4–5.
Is not the reckoning of God’s time, angel’s time, prophet’s time, and man’s time, according to the planet on which they reside? I answer, yes.
He talked about the conservation of matter/energy:

The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but never destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end. (TPJS 350–52)
O the impertinence of it all!

This farm kid, who'd never been to university, thought he knew things that ...well, you see the problem.

Today there is a great deal of talk about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and their "strange"  "new" ideas. Of course these are not new ideas at all. They only seem new to those who have not familiarized themselves with the very old ideas.

One of our number seems headed in the direction of the White House, and our "older brothers" in Christianity are in panic mode, kicking and screaming as in days long gone by.

Just who do these Mormons think they are? And why should anyone pay attention to them?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Apes or Astronauts: Who's Yo Daddy?

First off, let me be clear: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints takes no position on Evolution. So to say "The Church believes..." or "Mormons believe.." is nonsense. What the Church and the membership does believe in is free agency. Each person uses whatever information is available to him to make up his own mind. So I choose to believe in Evolution. Scriptures tell us that God created us, but how He went about it or how much time it took is left for us to figure out on our own.

So there are two conflicting theories -- at least. One follows Genesis or Darwin or some combination thereof, and the other follows Erich Van Daniken and his fellows. This second group has several explanations for the appearance of mankind on Earth. 1) The Ancient Astronauts used the Earth as
a laboratory: man is the result of one of their experiments 2) The A.A.s had strong sexual needs, so they mated with animals, particularly chimpanzees, and man is the resultant hybrid 3) Man was created, through genetic engineering, to be a slave to take over the hard labor, such as mining, because the astronauts had grown tired of it.

Put a few relevant terms into your search engine, and you will find endless explanations of our origins and subsequent major events. If you are film-minded, go to and look up the following: Ancient Aliens: Aliens and Evil Places Video Clip (44:13);  Ancient Aliens: Aliens and Deadly Weapons Video Clip (44:12); Ancient Aliens: Aliens and Lost Worlds Video Clip (44:12); Ancient Aliens: Aliens Plagues and Epidemics Video Clip (44:20); Ancient Aliens: Aliens and Ancient Engineers Video Clip (44:13).

                                     HOWARD PHILLIPS LOVECRAFT (1890-1937)

Howard Phillips Lovecraft
(1890-1936) may rightly be called the father of the current extraterrestrial movement. During his New England boyhood, he was fascinated by the adventure stories of Jules Verne, the worlds-in-conflict tales of H.G.Welles, and the horror stories of Edgar Allan Poe. His writing career took off in the heyday of the pulp magazines, long before actual space travel or moon landings. But if Jules Verne could take readers From the Earth to the Moon, and H.G. Welles could describe War of the Worlds, who could set limits on the ETs and their ways?

Lovecraft created Cthulhu, who led his people to Earth, where in time they either vanished under the oceans or returned to their home planet, from which they used telepathic powers to communicate with man. These people set up Atlantis and other ancient civilizations. He was the first to identify his fictional
characters with the ancient gods, using Egyptian, Sumerian and Greek mythology. He encouraged his fans to use his characters in their own writings, and there quickly grew up the "Cthulu Mythos," a term never used by Lovecraft himself. Soon, virtually everyone had heard of these Ancient Ones, even those who had never heard of Lovecraft.

New religions -- Scientology and the Raelian Revolution -- based consciously or not on Lovecraft's ideas, sprang up. Pseudoscience such as Worlds in Collision, by Immanuel Veilokovsky, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings by Charles Hapgood, The Twelfth Planet by Zecharia Sicthin, and Erich Van
Daniken’s famous Chariots of the Gods (1968) are obvious outgrowths. 1976 saw the publication of The Sirius Mystery, in which author Robert Temple claimed that the Dogon tribe of western Africa had received knowledge of the two-in-one nature of Sirius from the ancient Egyptians.

It is clear that neither Lovecraft nor his followers ever expected anyone to actually believe a word of their writings. Lovecraft himself declared,  "This pooling of resources tends to build up quite a pseudo-convincing background of dark mythology, legendry, & bibiliography--though of course, none of us has the least wish to actually mislead readers." They were writing fiction, and having a lot of fun doing it. Who would have guessed that new religions, new ideas about space and alternative theories of science and history would come of it?

[All these books, and hundreds more, are available for purchase at our online store. Click on the Starlight Doorway, and put in a title, author or subject. Besides hardback editions, many are available in economical Dover paperbacks, online, and are even FREE in online editions.]
                                             Erik Von Daniken (1935--)

Däniken is a co-founder of the Archaeology, Astronautics and SETI Research Association (AAS RA), and designed the theme park Mystery Park in Interlaken, Switzerland, that first opened on 23 May 2003. Däniken's first book, Chariots of the Gods?, was an immediate best seller in the United States, Europe and India, with subsequent books [that] "according to von Däniken, have been translated into 32 languages and together have sold more than 63 million copies." Wikipedia
But how did Lovecraft get into the current UFO/ET craze? Von Daniken cites the German translation of Morning of the Magicians, (Aufbruch ins dritte Jahrtausend) as his basic source for Chariots of the Gods. "Morning" came about in this way: Besides the American pulp magazines, Lovecraft  was published regularly in the French magazine La Planete. In 1960, two editors there, Louis Pauwls and  Jacques Bergier, compiled his fictional concepts and presented them as reality in a book they called Le Matin des Magiciens (Morning of the Magicians). Thus did Lovecraft's make-believe construct enter the world of  pseudo-science. This citation is seldom noticed by American readers, probably because few read either French or German.  To this day,  Von Daniken keeps writing, appearing on TV, and making money from the gullibility of those who want to believe him, presenting the ideas he plagiarized from international jokesters.

We cannot doubt that Von Daniken knew what he was doing when he published Chariots of the Gods, and since. His conviction and jail-time served for embezzlement do not serve to make us confident of his honesty.

Even the History Channel (as previously noted) has been running a block of programs featuring Von Daniken and several other "experts" on the idea of ancient astronauts. Add to this Roswell, Area 51, chupacabras, Sasquatch, and the whole UFO scenario. Jason Colavito even wrote a book entitled The Cult of Alien Gods.

People's devotion to this idea is indeed cult-like.

It was actually a surprise to me to discover that it was Lovecraft’s imaginative horror stories that started the reading and writing public on the road that led to Chariots of the Gods, The Twelfth Planet and in time to The DaVinci Code.  If citations on the I-Net are any clue, Lovecraft is still a lot  more widely read than Van Daniken: while Van Daniken gets a listing of 34,500 sites, Lovecraft scores 1,790,000. Put him on my bucket list for reading.
But we must remember one thing: no one can prove a negative. If these writers can't prove that ETs have landed, we certainly can't prove that they haven't. One of my favorite phrases: the preponderance of evidence. I personally prefer ancient primates to ancient astronauts.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Romney's Mormonism -- Today's Absurdities

It's a sad state of affairs indeed when democratic government requires an informed populace, and instead must depend on those who don't have the capacity to tell the difference between what's real and what's just clever propaganda.  Linda K. Brown, Baltimore
Mitt Romney has just won the Florida primary
. This guarantees we will continue to be treated to a new batch of opinions, ranging from uninformed to misinformed to just plain vicious, from the other contenders and their supporters. Others make us suspect that columnists, bloggers and commentators (not to mention supposedly informed journalists), find it easier to write a few eye-catching lines than to actually check out the facts on anything.

For instance, we often see writers contend that Romney has no plans beyond winning the Presidency. Please, they say, tell us what you want to do. How will you handle job creation, tax reform, (fill in the blank?)

Well here's a clue, Sherlock. Romney's website  has more information than you can absorb in one sitting.

Or you can just go on wading in the Slough of Despond out there. Here are a few of the absurdities from just a few random sites this morning:

Comments on racism:
Washington Post 1-31-2012
The LDS church has neither formally apologized for the priesthood ban nor publicly repudiated many of the theories used to justify it for more than 125 years. . . . Perkins and other black Mormons say the church's silence not only irks many African-Americans, it could also become a loud distraction for the nation's most prominent Mormon: Mitt Romney, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination.
John Aravosis, America blog 11/07/2011 and 1/13/2012
I knew about the racism. And keep in mind that the Mormons didn't change until they faced a boycott. I did not know, however, that the Mormons to this day - Romney included - refuse to fully expunge themselves of their racist past. As the article notes, this is an issue that's going to dog Romney for the campaign, at the very least with the black community, but really anyone who has an issue with racism.  (Of course, the Mormons are extremely homophobic as well.)
Mormon bishop says his church is responsible for gays’ emotional wounds. Good.  And he's right.  Sadly, we're still waiting for the leadership in Salt Lake City to understand that they're not just on the wrong side of history, they're on the wrong side of morality and the wrong side of smart politics.  And until they figure that out, we'll be holding them accountable more and more each day.  If Romney wins the nomination, I don't see how the Mormons avoid having a nationwide discussion about their religion, about the abduction of souls, the history of racism, and about their jihad against gays and lesbians.  And we probably ought to have a serious, and public, discussion about money too (just where it's coming from and where it's going). . . There's a reason that some people have issues with Mormons. It's because the Mormons have issues with us. The day the Mormon church stops being one of the largest purveyors of hate and bigotry in America today is the day the Mormons earn the right to complain about how they're treated by their own victims. Calling yourself a religion is not a get-out-of-jail free card to exonerate you from your own hateful actions. PS And I didn't even get to what the Mormons are still doing to Jews, and did do to African-Americans. 
The opposing view, posted by Moroni on January 31, 2012 at 11:42 PM in response to Time for Mormons to Come to Terms with Church History Post by Joanna Brooks
Just one story: I recently (in the past year) met the first converts from Jamaica (very Black); when they joined they knew they were not of the "tribe" that held the priesthood. The brother, active in another Christian church prior to his LDS conversion, knew the Bible well, and knew that in the Bible only one tribe could participate in the ancient priesthood. He simply couldn't fathom why some of his fellow Blacks thought the Church policy not allowing him to hold the priesthood as "racist." He was very grateful when the Church extended the blessings of the priesthood and the temple to his Tribe. What does "Come to Terms with" mean?

And on the Church's supposed homophobia:

Steven Wilson is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He joined the LDS Church about 13 years ago and has served in various church callings, including as an ordinance worker in the Oakland California Temple. Wilson is also gay, and he has AIDS. ..."The church is not hostile toward people with same gender attraction," Densley said. "It simply teaches that sexual relations should only be shared between a man and woman who are married to each other. This law of chastity applies to homosexual and heterosexual people alike. Single members of the church are expected to abstain from sex regardless of their sexual orientation. And married people are expected to remain faithful to their spouses, even if they feel strong temptations toward people to whom they are not married. "The mere fact that we are tempted," Densley adds, "does not mean that we have no choice but to submit."
Romney is not concerned with the very poor:

Romney not concerned with the poor
John Hayward 02/01/2012

There’s one other wild card, and Romney slapped it down on the table during a CNN interview Wednesday morning, during a disastrous interview in which he said, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.”  There’s a bit more context to his remarks, but you won’t be hearing any of it during the next round of attack ads, and the media is already buzzing that it might have been a fatal mistake. The road ahead for Romney--February is Romney's to lose.
A "bit more context"
"I'm in this race because I care about Americans. I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it," Romney said in an interview on CNN's "Starting Point."
"I'm not concerned about the very rich; they're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the very heart of America. The 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling," Romney said. When asked to explain by CNN host Soledad O’Brien why he wasn't concerned for the "very poor," Romney clarified that he believes the poorest Americans have a safety net, while the middle class faces more uncertainty.
"Magic Underwear" -- Again??

Jen Thames  College News Jan 31 2012
Now here is a conundrum: Why is the news media talking at length about Romney’s taxes and Newt’s big mouth when what they really should be discussing is the Republican presidental candidate's Secret Magical Underwear?
Yup, you read that right: secret magical underwear. Mitt Romney is Mormon. The sanest candidate running for the republican nomination, Jon Hunstman (he just dropped out) was also a wearer of the wonder whities. Yet not a whisper, not even a joke about the magical protective underwear that all Mormons are expected to wear as part of their faith. Now how can this be? Where is Barbara Walters when you need her? Why did it take the voters of South Carolina to point out that wonder whities are just a little freaky? .... Both Mitt and Ann Romney went to college at Brigham Young University. At Brigham Young is secret magical underwear on the list of mandatory college supplies?
Wait a minute. "Not a whisper?" "Not even a joke?" Makes you wonder what college students read online that they have missed this.

 "What the &*%$ is this supposed to mean?" [Sorry. I tried to think of a better category.]

BLH557 Comments How Romney won Florida by Tony Lee 01/31/2012 Daily Events
Tony rightly points out that having the history and people knowing and believing the history are equines of multiple light frequencies.

Well, enough nonsense for one day. If you have questions, ask your Mormon friends and neighbors. Or log in to or   Hold on: this election cycle can't last forever.