Saturday, January 26, 2013

Another Mormon Funeral

An LDS friend of mine recently had a family member pass away, and I attended the funeral to show her some support.

The family has a pre-funeral gathering/viewing where they pray and whatnot.  As I am not family of the deceased, I waited outside in the foyer.  As the mourners gather in an LDS meeting house, they wait in the chapel until the casket is brough in followed by the family.  At this point, I joined my friend and sat with her for the funeral, hoping that the family did not mind that I walked in with them.  She assured me that they did not.

I bought a white shirt for the occasion and I am sure I looked just like a Mormon with my recent hair cut and tie.  Before the funeral started as I was waiting in the foyer, a man came into the building from the January weather wearing a ski jacket and shorts.  His legs were heavily tattoo'd.  He obviously didn't fit into the Mormon mold.  He walked down the hall out of sight for a moment but promptly returned and left the building.

Another man waiting in the foyer came up to me, assuming I am Mormon, and asked me if I had noticed "that guy" and made a comment resembling, "I wonder what he wanted."  Good old Mormon judgments at it's finest.

We presently found ourselves seated on the extremely uncomfortable wooden pews in the chapel.  They are not designed in the slightest to give comfort to the poor behind that has to park on them.  The cushion on which I was steated was not very thick and the back rest had no padding at all.  Throughout the nearly two hour service, I was constantly shifting around trying desperately to get comfortable to no avail.

The service was opened with a prayer offered by a son-in-law of the deceased.  He approached the podium and stood there very quietly for several minutes before beginning.  His prayer was five minutes long and my butt was already getting numb by the time he finished.  He rambled on and on about the power of the gospel and how true it all is and how families can be together after death if they all cling desperately to LDS gospel prinicples.

The prayer was followed by a congregational hymn (#97 in the Mormon hymn book, which I now forget the title of) which hardly anyone sang.  Or if they were singing, it was barely audible.

This was followed by a euligy offered by the deceased's sister which was funny and entertaining.  She talked about growing up together and read passages out of her journal in which she had recorded the very brief meeting, courting, and marrying of her husband.

The 8 grandchildren in attendance then sang the song "Love Is Spoken Here".  As they gathered, the podium was lowered and a grandson lowered the microphone.  Then they did the traditional turn-your-head-and-look-at-the-pianist-to-make-sure-she's-there gesture.  I have never seen a musical number performed in church where this is not done.

The music of the song itself is quite beautiful and the lyrics are equally as enchanting to the young Mormon mind.  They go as follows:

I see my mother kneeling with her family each day.
I hear the words she whispers, as she bows her head to pray.
Her pleas to the father quiet all my fears.
And I am thankful, love is spoken here.

Mine is a home where every hour
Is blessed by the strength of priesthood power.
With father and mother leading the way,
Teaching me how to trust and obey.
And the things they teach are crystal clear,
For love is spoken here.

The girls then sing the first verse together with the boys singing the second, and when done properly, sounds very nice.  However, the boys were all tone deaf and it sounded just awful.  But no one cares because the spirit is so very strong at this point.

This musical number was followed by a son of the deceased who thanked everyone on behalf of the family for the kind support from everyone and then shared favorite moments of his memories with his mother and siblings.  He made sure to throw in lots of preaching and quotes from church leaders.

This was followed by a daughter-in-law who sang a song which I have never heard.  The family all seemed to enjoy it, but to me it honestly sounded just like screeching.  I felt embarrased for the poor woman.  Obviously, it's not easy to preform a musical piece while you are at the height of your emotions, so I tried not to be too critical.

The presiding bishop then made a few short comments (thankfully) and it was time for the closing hymn and prayer.

The five-minute closing prayer was offered by another son-in-law and, naturally, he too paused before he began the prayer, and he made a deliberate attempt to make his prayer even more righteous-sounding than the opening prayer.  The words "in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen." have never sounded so sweet.  It meant I could relieve the pressure on my posterior and allow blood flow to return to the area, which was now feeling nothing.

During the entire funeral, the grandchildren were crying and the atmosphere was sad as funerals usually are.  This heightened sense of emotion is used by the church at funerals to envoke powerful feelings of helpless dependence on the gospel.  It is clearly preached that they will all be reunited with the deceased someday IF they all stay strong in the gospel.

It is sad but true that a Mormon funeral is not used to honor the deceased but to create a stronger emotional attachment to "revealed precious gospel truths".  This particular funeral, while preachy, did actually give me a good sense of what this person was like during her life.

In mentioning the opening and closing prayer givers, it became obvious to me that there is real competition among the priesthood holders to project the most righteousness.  Image is everything in the church, and the person who can offer the most humble yet powerful prayer is highly regarded by everyone.  The feeling of Mormon superiority is futher demonstrated by the comments that were made before the funeral about the improperly dressed man who made a short appearance.

That was about all the Mormon preaching I can handle for a long time.  And my ass is screaming at me to never go there again!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Blog: Of Darkness and Light

I stumbled upon this amazing blog!  The author of this blog is exceptional at making valuable points.  I have often been praised for my ability to write but this author makes me look like an amateur.

He wrote a post which he called The Source of All Knowledge, and it is so amazing that I am going to share it in it's entirety here. This post talks about the use of emotions.  I especially love the analogy of the feather in the wind:

I believe that the single most significant and influential teaching of the LDS church, and the reason that it is as large as it is today, is the idea that an emotion is a communication from God. Not only that the emotion is from God, but also that anything else is of no value. To break it down, the LDS church teaches that (a) an emotional reaction is a message from the creator of the universe, (b) no matter what the emotion is it leads to the conclusion that the Church is true, and (c) declaring that all other sources of information are irrelevant unless they are in sync with the Church being true.

The problem is that it is one of the easiest things in the world to evoke an emotional response. A few notes on the piano will easily move one emotionally. A single look from another person can cause one to feel fear, lust, anger, peace, etc. A few lines of a poem can bring one to tears. A scene in a movie can evoke these same emotions.

The missionaries teach investigators that good feelings about some Church teachings witness that the teachings are true. But if one hears another doctrine of the Church that evokes a different emotional response, like disgust, that is apparently not a message from God, because it might lead one to conclude that the Church is not what it claims to be. Then, when someone such as I tries to investigate the real history and teachings of the Church, and finds strong physical, archaeological, or logical evidence that it is not what it claims to be, the Church insists that all those clues are irrelevant compared to the emotional conviction they have. Doctrine & Covenants, for example, states:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things (Section 6:22).

In other words, if something seems like it's not right - if it seems like you need more from the Church to keep following it - what you are supposed to do is recall the one time you did feel good about it. If you feel bad about it now, there's nothing wrong with the Church, you just need to start feeling good again.
In brief, if you ever have a positive feeling about any part of the Church, it must be true. Any bad feelings you have about it are distractions from Satan. I've spent a very long time trying to come up with an adequate analogy, but it's so nonsensical that nothing fits. So here's a try:
Emotions are easily swayed, much like a feather moving in the breeze. So imagine a feather tied to a string, hanging from a tree branch. A man sits under the tree and watches the feather one day. A bird up on the branch tells the man that it is a magic feather - it can predict the weather. If the feather moves to the north, there is a thunderstorm coming. If it moves south, there will be sunshine. If it moves east, there will be snow, and if it moves west, there will be rain. The man watches for a while and the feather dances mostly Northwest. He sees some storm clouds off in the distance and concludes that the feather is magic. The next day, the feather sways eastward, but it stays sunny and warm. The man says, "Well, I already know it's a magic feather." So when he learns later in the day that it snowed in Alaska that day, his conclusion is confirmed. "The feather's magic is so powerful, that it could see it was snowing hundreds of miles away!" The next day, the feather moves to the south, and the sun shines. It is indeed a magic feather! The next day it blows to the west, but the sun shines again. A week later, it finally does rain and the man is awestruck that it not only predicted the weather, but that it did it a week in advance!
An easily-influenced variable is given ultimate authority. But when the easily-influenced variable acts unpredictably it is meaningless, or still evidence of the purported source's authenticity. This logic contains no real connection between what happens and what is real.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Every Member a Toilet Scrubber

What do I even say?

In addition to the exorbitant amount of time that LDS church membership requires, you can now add janitorial work to your list of endless things to do.

Before the church decided to make care of their meeting houses the responsibility of the members, someone had a job; not the most glamorous job in the world and certainly low paying, but still a job.  An honest way to earn a living.

Watch this video.  Only a cult could find a way to make someone find a spiritual experience out of scrubbing a toilet.

I understand the church's reasoning though.  Give the members a little bit of personal attachment to the building.  This will guarantee that they are emotionally connected with it and they will want to stay and keep giving their time and money.

About 1:20 into the video, one gentleman said it best, "People need to feel needed."  Exactly, even if that "needed" feeling comes from a shit job, literally.

This tear-jerking video, complete with touching music, starts out by stating how sacred these buildings are.  They are the places were the true doctrine of Jesus Christ is taught and shared; therefore, they deserve to be well maintained.

It then shows several members, including young children, happily washing windows, vacuuming floors, and yes, even scrubbing toilets.  Occasionally, a testimonial is given about how much a person's testimony has grown from a result of selfless service to the church.

I have nothing against people who really want to help out and clean the building they worship in.  They view it as a way to help the lord's kingdom move forward.  But are they doing it because they want to?  Or are they doing it because it's just another commandment that must be fulfilled in order to gain Jesus' approval?

I would think the latter, because before this change took place, how many members excitedly and voluntarially showed up on Saturday morning with brooms and toilet brushes in hand? 

My point exactly.  But as soon as the executive order is given, the masses flock to answer the call!

The latest revelation from Temple Square: Jesus wants you for a toilet scrubber!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Problem... is a Godless Society

Whoever created this graphic was an idiot.

They claim that the godless are to blame for all the crimes and bad things that happen.  But did they stop to consider that:

Timothy McVeigh was a Roman Catholic?

9-11 terrorists were acting out of devotion to Allah?  While not the Christian god, it's still a god.

Adolf Hitler's Religious Views  The Nazis killed millions of Jews under Hitler's direction because they were "fighting for the work of the Lord"?

The god of the Bible himself is guilty for the deaths of thousands of people. 

Clearly the problem is the non-religious!