Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Apparently David B hates America

I realize that this is borderline heresy, especially in July (when all USAmericans, and especially USAmerican Mormons, are xpected to be nothing but hyperpatriotic),* but can we stop hearing that the United States Constitution is divinely inspired—or at least can we stop saying that over the pulpit?

I mean, even if it is,** there’s no real evidence for that claim in canon,*** and so it shouldn’t be presented as if there were.

(I only hope that we don’t get such jingoism among Mormons in other countries, ’cause it’d just be totally sad if we do.)

* Not only do we get Independence Day on 4 July, but 24 July brings us Pioneer Day, when those of us with no real connection to the Mormon pioneers are expected to get up early for breakfast and salute the flag on their behalf anyway.

** And i would argue it clearly isn’t—i mean, slavery being legal? Women having no say in government? Hello? Anyone willing to admit there might be some uninspired bits in there?

*** The book of Doctrine and Covenants states that God allowed the United States Constitution to be established, and that those who wrote it were raised up for the purpose of establishing it. There really is a big difference between that and saying the document irself is divinely inspired. (See, for example, the previous footnote.)


Heather the Mama Duk said...

Bonus of living in "the mission field" that is not in northern VA and so half Utah Mormons anyway: Barely a mention of Pioneer Day.

Every once in a while someone will try to encourage an activity or two about the pioneers but it inevitably fizzles out. I guess we just don't care about people who weren't actually our ancestors nor have anything to do with where we live that much. (Though there are still some stragglers who believe if you are pioneer stock you are guaranteed entrance into the Celestial Kingdom... never mind the 2nd article of faith and all.)

David B said...

We believe that those descended from the handcart pioneers (or those in Brigham Young’s wagon company) won’t be punished for their sins, while all others will be punished for their own sins and Adam’s transgression.

Doesn’t scan as well, certainly, but yeah, i’ve met some people who seemed to believe that that’s the way it reads.

Michelle said...

Dude, I came across your blog by accident and thought the first post was funny, however, you do know that you are free to part ways with the church at any time if all you feel is snark. It might be time for you to realize that whether you descend from pioneer stock or not, the church does.

David B said...

Sorry, Michelle, but i believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s authorized church on the earth—so you’re stuck with me.

What i don’t believe is that the cultural norms that have grown up around that church are divinely inspired. But since you’re not required to believe that the culture’s got it right to believe that the church has got it right, this doesn’t cause a problem for me—hope it doesn’t for you, either.

David B said...

Oh—and “the first post”? This blog’s first post is pretty serious (though brief), actually, but it explains the reason for the snark nicely, i think.


Heather the Mama Duk said...

I'm guessing pioneer stock who just had her bubble burst. Or, more likely, one of those Utahns who lack a sense of humor. lol

Actually, more seriously, Michelle's post kinda reminded me of an argument about how it looks like the Duggars aren't *really* homeschooling since they aren't shown sitting around the table doing school way too often on their reality show (because, of course 22 minutes a week, about 20 weeks a year clearly shows their whole entire life and everything they do). Thing is, showing them schooling would be boring. Not having a sense of humor and poking fun where fun poking is due is boring, too.

Michelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David B said...

@Michelle: First of all, thank you for not being a hit-and-run commenter—i get a number of those, and the tone of your first comment led me to believe you were another of those, so i was probably a bit prickly in my reaction to you.

That said, i think your position is wrong on two levels. One is simply a semantic misunderstanding, i think, because of the inherent ambiguity of the term Utah Mormon. As i (and, i think, Heather) use the term, it’s not simply a demonym, even though that’s its literal meaning. Utah Mormon has a different, more attributive meaning, though, and that’s the more important (and, arguably, widespread) one. It’s probably unfair for Mormons from Utah to get saddled with that sort of label, but there’s enough of them that i figure they can probably handle it (or at least a critical mass of them can).

[As i went to post this comment, i saw that Michelle had removed her last comment, thus removing the context for that last paragraph. Oh well—so it goes. I’m leaving it in, though, if only ’cause i think it’s always good to define one’s terms.]

On the issue of the church descending from pioneer stock, well, that’s an interesting one.

First of all, pretty much all of the non-Hispanic-dominant US West descends from pioneer stock—it’s no accident that the Oregon Trail has Oregon in its name, and that Nebraska’s state road signs have Conestoga wagons on them. So i don’t know that it’s actually making much of a claim to say that a US West-dominant organization has a bunch of pioneerness (to coin a term) in its history.

Second, and more important: So what, though? There were pioneers in the past, but that is the past. I have met plenty of people in the church (oddly, pretty much all descended at least largely from Mormon pioneers), though, who believe that there is something superior about being descended from the Mormon pioneers, hence my first comment on this thread—where, incidentally, i said that i’ve met people who believe that sort of thing, not that everyone descended from the Mormon pioneers is into that sort of attitude, and that’s an important difference. In the most egregious case, while i was serving as a full-time missionary i was told, in all earnestness, that since i wasn’t born into the church (my parents joined the church when i was a small child), i clearly had been only sorta-valiant in the war in heaven.

Yeah, that’s healthy.

That’s the sort of thing i’m talking about when i talk about the culture that has grown around the church, as opposed to the doctrine (and dogma) of the church itself. I’m a fan of the doctrine (and even the dogma) of the church, but not so much of the culture—so, to survive, i smirk. (And before you object that the example i gave doesn’t really exist, remember that i explicitly marked it as extreme—and even though it isn’t present nearly as much these days, if you look at stuff from, say, the early to mid-twentieth century, yeah, it was there. It’s one of the things i’m happy that we’ve largely moved away from.)

And this has gone long—probably should have made a separate post of it. Too late, though—so i’ll close off and post this now.