Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Image & Symbolism

Since I had recently written a post on the topic, I felt it would be a good idea to share a second opinion. I was reading over on Mormoncurtain.com and found this article by lightfinger louie:

One of the hardest life lessons I learned was the fact that image and symbolism prevail most of the time. The sweet talking self-promoter nearly always finds his way to the top, and often at the expense of those who were more sincere and qualified.

I saw this in the Mormon church constantly. After a while, it makes you laugh.

If you are not very good at self-promotion, or image creation, you just don't move ahead very well. But then if you think about it, you realize that Joseph Smith was the ultimate self-promoter. He passed himself off as someone who was second only to Christ in his goodness and contributions. In fact, he took credit for holding his church together better than Jesus did his.

I recall the self-promoters very well. I did not really see them emerge until I was a missionary, and my entire life was involved with Mormonism for two years. When Mormonism was the pond, the fish began to fight over who was the best Mormon fish.

I remember one testimony meeting in particular. The Mission President had said he wanted "more emotion" in our testimonies. When the actual ordeal by testimony started, the new Assistant to the President got up, and put on a show that would rival the efforts of Elmer Gantry. He poured sweat, sobbed, and walked back and forth, bellowing his emotion into the microphone. It was one of the worst performances I have ever seen. I recall hearing a missionary say "What a phony bastard," as the show went on.

When the kid finally sat down, the Mission President patted his back, and said "That was beautiful." No, it was not. It was nauseating----nothing more than a favor currying sideshow. The kid had no shame---just a desire to climb.

I remember flying to the Language Training Mission. It was in Hawaii in those days. The stewardesses offered us" tropical drinks." They had endured lots of missionaries, so the drinks were alcohol free. I took one, and was rebuked by the missionary next to me. He said "Someone might think you are drinking alcohol. " What nonsense.

I also recall a radio talk show, where the host was talking about Mormons. He said "I saw some Mormon missionaries in the airport last week. They were hungry, but the only place in the airport where they could get something to eat sold beer. They debated among themselves, and decided they could not go into a a place that sold beer. It would hurt their image." The host then said "I could not be in a religion that makes people that afraid of their image. "

Anyone who ever went to BYU learned the obsession with image and symbols. From the "Dress Code," to the "Honor Code," image is everything. Kids dare not dress the way they want, or speak the way they want. It might put them at odds with the image makers. Over time, the image obsession wears you down. It leaves one feeling drained and exhausted. I wonder how many dump the LDS church as soon as they leave BYU? More than a few. It drains away your ability to continue as a Mormon, because you have come to realize its all just a performance based on smoke and mirrors.

The image obsession never dies. The Word of Wisdom is based on image. Mormons feel that if they do not smoke, or drink alcohol, tea, or coffee, they are generating the right image, and are, therefore, righteous. If you add family home evening and regular church attendance, your image becomes more and more complete. Say the right things to the right people at the right time, and you might must move up.

What is inside you, deep inside you, does not count. Only the external matters, which is why large conference centers and huge building projects matter. They, too, project image.


Brian Super X Mormon said...


you know that is why I left the church behind and found that being a non-believer was just as gratifying since I no longer have to worry about what I "might" look like to someone else.

Mormon411 said...

Exactly. One of the main reasons I quit going to church myself was because I was tired of the "let's play pretend" game. There's always going to be someone to judge you but I've had to learn that it doesn't matter what other people think. Screw them, it's my life, not theirs.

Anonymous said...

you have a quote on your blog from me, but it's incorrect and I didn't say it. check your facts. You picked it up from my blog which now I will make private so that people like you can't reach into my personal life. P.S. the fact that you spend your time bashing on the Mormons because a few of them offended you is pathetic. There are good Mormons and bad Mormons. Just like there are good Jews and bad Jews. Just like there are good Catholics and bad Catholics. Get a new hobby

Mormon411 said...

So anon,

If you didn't say it, then why was it on your blog?

Why bother telling me that I have incorrectly quoted you and then not bother to tell me which blog is yours or what the correct quote is? How am I supposed to correct it if I have no idea who you are? Plus, whatever blogs I have quoted I copied and pasted them straight over, so I highly doubt that I have misquoted you anyway. So I'm just going to leave everything just the way it is.

If you don't want people in your personal life, then you shouldn't blog online, duh.

It's you who needs to check your facts. Where did I say, ever, that a few Mormons offended me? I haven't and the only reason why you're saying that is because that's what your cult leaders want you to think is the reason I left the church.

So good life to you and enjoy being a sheep!

Oh, by the way, I don't plan on getting a new hobby because YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!!! YEAH!!!