Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Shiny, Happy People....

Living in the middle of Mormondom, along the I-15 corridor, has really opened my eyes to the Utah Mormon culture.   Driving around  Salt Lake, you can see the neighborhoods dotted with churches everywhere.  Looking around the valley you may notice the pinnacles of Mormonism, the Mormon temples.  These structures, according to their teachings, are where the mysteries of God are taught with all the necessary ordinances needed to return back to God and live with Him in heaven.  It is necessary, according to the doctrine, to go the temple to reach the highest level of heaven.

In these elaborate structures, no expense is spared.  I remember during the Draper Temple open house, visitors were told of the Italian limestone moulding that was used throughout the structure.  To members, these buildings are where God resides.  In my opinion, it seems as if  the more elaborate and beautiful the building, the holier it becomes.  God's house needs to be over the top or God will not accept it.  It is all about appearances.

courtesy of buzzfeed

 I used to "feel" the spirit in the Temple when I was a believing member.  Now, after finding out the truth,  there is nothing magical about the temple.  It is simply like a very nice hotel lobby.    The "spirit" therefore,  must basically come from our own mind, and it is based on our perspective.  If we think it is holy-- we make it holy.  Just like Christmas was always more magical when you believed in Santa Claus.

  Let me give you an example.  Numerous people who have been to the sacred grove in New York  tell how spiritual and holy it is there.  They always tell of the feeling they had when visiting the grove. The interesting thing is we really don't know the exact spot where the "vision" happened.   Even the church can't pinpoint the location.  Steve Benson reports;

Where's a working Liahona when you need one?

Anyone got a map to Joseph Smith's "Sacred Grove?" Didn't think so. From the clueless Mormon Church's own website:

"The Joseph Smith Sr. family moved to this 100-acre property in western New York [Manchester, New York, near Palmyra] around 1818. Joseph Smith, Jr. labored with his father and brothers to remove trees and prepare this heavily forested land for farming.

"'On the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of 1820,' young Joseph went into these woods to pray, to a place where he 'had previously designed to go.' Here, God the Father and His resurrected Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith to commence the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days.

"Joseph Smith's family moved away from this farm in 1830. The Church acquired the land in the early 1900s. The exact location of Joseph Smith's First Vision is unknown, but it occurred somewhere within a 10-acre forest on the western boundaries of the farm. This forest has been referred to as the Sacred Grove since 1906."

("Sacred Grove: Manchester, New York (near Palmyra)," from website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 10 September 2013, at: http://history.lds.org/article/historic-sites-new-york-sacred-grove?lang=eng)

Looking at this photo of the sacred grove can you feel the spirit?

  Me too.  Funny this is in West Virginia. 

That's better.  Now I feel the spirit.

It is all about appearances, and as humans, we are creating these feelings of God and His spirit.  It we believe it and it looks right, then it makes me feel good.  That's the spirit.

I see this emphasis on appearance everyday around the Salt Lake valley.  I see it with my neighbors, my friends, even my family.  Being from another state, I didn't really find  this fixation on outward appearances.  People weren't as worried about what brands they were wearing, the car they drove, how their hair is done, nails, breast implants, etc...

Now I don't have a problem with someone trying to look their best, but I feel there is an unwritten paradigm in the Utah Mormon culture.  That trend is,  to the  Utah member, their worthiness and status with God is tied to their wealth or appearance of wealth.   This pursuit of wealth, or in other words, the appearance of wealth can lead to debt, bankruptcy, depression, judging, etc...  Go to the parade of homes in Utah, it speaks volumes of this mentality.   I wonder if subconsciously, members feel the need to have the biggest, fanciest, and etc... home, car, body, clothes, hair, to feel God's presence. 

To me, the members lives are like the Mormon temples.  They may appear happy, beautiful and good on the outside, but deep down there is alot of hurt going on.  They are driving the newest and best cars, have the biggest houses and the latest toys, but it is all show.  It makes them feel good about their status with "God".  Members say they are happy, that the church gives them purpose and joy. The church does give them busy work, but just like the temple it is all show and no substance. The members real lives are hidden behind a facade.  They aren't the "shiny, happy people we are lead to believe.


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