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Mormonism! A Hip Christ for The New World!

No? Then, can we interest you in a neo-classical paganism? Very big in all the trendy nations........

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, March 11, 2009.

It becomes sort of boring making fun of religions, primarily because you cannot compete with their own public statements. There is a drama series on HBO called Big Love, which is about a polygamous and discredited sect of the Mormons, much like the one in Colorado City, and an upcoming episode shows a secret ceremony, apparently authenticated by former church members. Only if a Masonic initiation or a Scientology gelding or a Skull and Bones Hazing ritual involving drinking beer from the skull of Geronimo was in the offing would similar distress be proclaimed.

But the Mormons are furious. They whine and declaim the episode they have not seen, and huffily summarize: “Such things say much more about the insensitivities of writers, producers and TV executives than they say about Latter-day Saints.” Indeed.

Mormonism is merely a fifth continent’s version of Christianity. Religions attune themselves to their surroundings as illustrative example of natural selection as surely as children and plant lichen. The very Asiatic early Christian faith changed notably when it moved to Europe, where it suddenly noticed that this derivative sect of Judaism about a humble carpenter needed a Pope and a Church and, you know, money and the trappings of royalty – solely for the souls of their flock – and eventually military power and world dominance. Don’t mind us. At which point it divided and became different religions. Southern Europe retained Catholic grandiosity and easy hypocrisy and slid into the New World, and prospered in Central and South America and in Mexico.

Northern Europe, with mini Ice Age growing seasons, begat the Protestants, who became ridiculously anal as would anyone who needed to get the planting done at exactly the right time or face starvation. The Protestants learned, through the words of their loving God, to hate each other as they did the Catholics and successfully settled North America, where they set the Catholics in ghettoes, some named Quebec and Mexico and South Boston. But Protestantism still was European in its pinch-lipped fear of earthly happiness, and had not melded into the New World to the point where Ben Franklin and others worried about the numbers of young men skipping out to live with the Indians.

Joe Smith? Come on down, man!

The True Story of the Mormons – uncomfortably and concurrently inspiring, impressive, and ridiculous – is nothing more than the tale of how boiler plate patriarchy repackages itself. God told them polygamy was good until they needed to join the United States, at which point God told them it was bad. And voila! But none of that lack of earthly happiness or joining the Indian tribes. No, Mormon men were meant to be happy, and women – lots and lots – were to keep them happy. No need for Scarlet Letters thereabouts.

The wrenching around of divine information is rendered more obvious and ridiculous with the Mormons because of very short time frame in which it has occurred. Yet, the exact same thing can be witnessed in any religion’s history, say, the transformation of the Greek gods and Cosmos to the Roman. Like the Christian, Judaic, and Muslim sects, each pretended they worship the same God. Sorta. But as strong a case could be made they do not.

The Olympian Gods, who themselves displaced the early Greek Titans, were not to be distinguished from a family of violent dysfunctional egomaniacs with too much time, power, hormones, and alcohol at hand. Zeus and crew provoke wars at whim, have sex with humans, birds, each other out of mere lust and boredom, have small sense of honor or responsibility, and while entirely entertaining, reflect a dim view of higher ideals. Ares, the God of War, is cheerfully portrayed as a coward.

Rome, always social climbing, intimidated by the legends of Alexander, absorbed the Greek Gods as easily as they changed the Latin language to sound like the Greek and made all consonants hard. A cowardly war god wasn’t for them, so Ares became Mars and more like a cross between a Chamber of Commerce member and a reluctant, but always victorious, war leader. Imagine Hera as a Junior League matron and you have Juno to the life. The Olympians became spiritual bureaucrats in Italy, adult deities with burdens. Because that’s what Rome needed, the Senate felt.

Mormonism is an attempt, like Scientology or all New Age neo-paganism, to give a new place in a new time a religion reflective of the supposed spiritual needs which - only coincidently, I’m sure - allows the males of certain connections to preside over the culture. It’s still annoying and profoundly ridiculous, but it has a long pedigree. Go figure.