Posted by: Loran Blood | December 3, 2012

Cultural Mormonism and Mormonism Talis Qualis

The world of cultural Mormonism is an interesting place because the very idea of domesticating – of neutering – the restored gospel and the Church that is its institutional, social, and cultural manifestation such that contemporary intellectual, political, and social nostrums and fashions can be assimilated by that Church, making that Church, in essence, politically (socioculturally, ideologically, philosophically) correct (or politically cleansed of the things that make the people in the Great and Spacious Building point their fingers in smug mockery) is understood by faithful Latter-day Saints to be out of the question.

To do so could only have one consequence, and that would be the utter destruction of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints as a divinely authorized instrument and institution who’s core purpose is the perfecting of the Saints, the preaching of the gospel, and the salvation of the dead (the “threefold mission” of the Church).  The Church exists to exalt families in the Celestial Kingdom, the highest degree or “heaven” in LDS doctrine, and the fundamental focus of everything that is taught in the Church, and of every program and policy.

The effects of such a convergence of the Church and “Babylon” (spiritual Babylon, spiritual Sodom, spiritual Rome etc., within gospel symbolic teaching,) could only end one way, and that would be the absorption by the surrounding secular culture of the least unpalatable broad ethical generalities contained within the gospel, while its core “plain and precious” truths – those doctrines and concepts that lie at the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation, would be abandoned, marginalized, and thrown to the swine, and there would be vomit in abundance for the dogs to lap up, were they desirous of so doing, as the Church, bereft of divine ministerial authority as well as its central exalting principles, lapsed into just another liberal “social gospel” mainline Protestant church, who’s focus on concerns such as “social justice,” “economic justice,” “sustainability,” and other such human messianic commitments would leave little room for the Messiah himself.

The Church of Jesus Christ would cease, as it did after the passing of the apostles in the Meridian church, to be the divinely authorized Kingdom of God on earth.  As, however, this is the dispensation of the fullness of times, we understand that a complete apostasy will not again occur; the Church will remain upon the earth until the second advent of the Savior, and will not be taken from the earth in totality as has happened repeatedly, among various peoples, throughout human history.

And yet, the attempt to hoist a golden calf (even if a smiley-faced, diverse, tolerant, politically correct one) upon church and temple spires to replace the iconic figure of Moroni continues apace, among the LDS Anointed (who are not, in must be said, that much different from the non-LDS Anointed (or those whom Kenneth Minogue termed the Olympians).

An interesting example of the mindset at work here can be found on Joanna Brooks blog, in which Brooks (here a kind of self-styled leftist Mormon Dear Abbey) answers questions from other generally liberal LDS about various aspects of Mormon life, culture, and doctrine.  Her answers, however, are not those one would expect from one who had been, not only immersed in, but imbued with, the doctrines, teachings, principles, and culture of “Mormonism.”  Indeed, her answers, for the most part, bespeak a deep and conflictual alienation from the Church, from the gospel it teaches and seeks to spread, and from the bulk of its faithful, committed members.

An LDS woman asks her about the lowering of the age of missionary service for woman from 21 to 19, and is encouraged that “my daughter will grow up in a church and culture that will promote her spiritual development, allow her to serve, and allow marriage to happen at the proper time and place.”

Faithful, knowledgeable LDS –and especially those who have been in the Church a long time – will scratch their heads here attempting to comprehend in what manner LDS woman have ever been discouraged form spiritual development, disallowed to serve, or prompted to get married outside the “proper time and place.”  Having scratched their heads suitably, they will ask upon what criteria, or basis, or from what frame of reference, such assertions could be made.

But its worse.  This change in age limitation is “too late in coming.”  That’s correct.  This two year age difference for woman (19 instead of 21) has had a devastating, crippling effect on previous generations of LDS woman.  What effects?  The questioner tells us that she is rent with “anger and hurt” left  over from being raised in a culture that “taught things about the role of women and about the timing and urgency of marriage that shaped pivotal decisions in your life?”

She does not describe these things, but we all know what they are; motherhood is a sacred calling – and indeed a sublimely sacred calling –  both in mortality and in eternity, and more important and pivotal for one’s own salvation and the viability of civil society than any possible life or career in the business world.   The role of wife and mother are at the very core of civilization as well as of the kind of life God lives, and which we can live if we are able to return to his presence through obedience to the principles and ordinances of the gospel.  Marriage is a sacred and exalting relationship, as well as calling and responsibility, and it, under normal circumstances, as with the joys and civilizing disciplines of home and hearth, is of greater importance and centrality to life than any other pursuit.

No success, as David ‘O McKay said, “can compensate for failure in the home.

What Joanna’s questioner does not tell us is that, in the Church, precisely the same doctrines and principles apply to men as to woman.  There is a natural division of responsibility which emphasizes a woman’s primary role as mother, nurturer, teacher, and counselor in the home, and a man’s role as economic provider, but as Gordon B. Hinckley once said, in the pamphlet Father, Consider Your Ways, the married LDS man is to “live a family-centered life,”not a career and success centered life.  Career and success are proper and wonderful, in their place, as is the case, although to a lessor degree, in an optimum sense, for woman, but the center of their lives is in the family, in each other and in their children (if children are present) and the center of the center; the center of each life within the family and of the family itself, is Jesus Christ.

Brooks will have none of this, however.  This “voice” of “Mormon” life appears innocent of these essential doctrines and teachings that lie at the foundation of her Church.  “There’s no God in housewares,” she quips.  That’s her answer.  The post-first wave feminist perception of marriage as a Sisyphean dungeon of meaningless toil while hopes, dreams, and aptitudes languish in a nightmare world of Jell-O and dirty dishes (while sensuous, successful, exciting, high-powered, (and, of course, happy and fulfilled) people like Helen Gurley Brown (and her Hollywood doppelganger, Murphy) “have it all” and have no fear of flying.

Men, of course, have similar challenges to face.  Men face the temptation to center and focus themselves in money, status, and career (as do late 20th and early 21st century woman) as well as athletic prowess and the attitudinal barriers to discipleship that can attend all these aspects of male life (the modern cult of American contact sports – and most especially football – cannot be overlooked in any discussion of the special barriers men can face in being centered in fatherhood and their marriage relationship).

Mormon boys fair no better in Brook’s view.  As they prepare for their mission, they are undergoing a trial of “heartbreaking loneliness and terrible rules.”  The word of wisdom?  The law of chastity?  I never found those to be in any way difficult as a young man, and although I know that some did, many did not find such disciplines “terrible.”  Why?  The gospel itself holds the answer and key to that mystery, a mystery that woman’s studies cannot grasp, nor ever even crawl within sight of.

But the most bizarre of all is Brooks account of what LDS woman are doing while “waiting” for LDS men to return from their missions so the dirty diapers can start piling up.

You get accustomed to waiting and to looking for yourselves in the eyes of the 22 and 23 year old men who suddenly become your peers.  Except that they are not your peers.  They’re grown men back from a two-year intensive in the inner workings of the thing you love most—this Church.

This is very difficult to parse, but how is it the case that LDS woman enter a state of suspended biological and psychological animation while the men are out on mission growing older and growing up?  The men come back two years older, while the woman are still, in some sense, 18 or 19, and they haven’t been doing a bloody thing in church all day (and they’re as sorry, Uncle Albert, as anyone could be).  No relief society callings.  No visiting teaching.  No teaching gospel doctrine classes or relief society classes.  No teaching of the gospel on their own with friends, family, and co-workers.  No spiritual experiences.  No service in their community.  No working at the Bishop’s storehouse.  No callings in the stake.  No missions in their own right (in which case, they come back at the age of 23 or 24, with the same maturing experiences as the men have had, and get married anyway), Nothing but waiting for those missionaries to come home and become Homer Simpson.  If this doesn’t appear representative of what many LDS girls and woman have actually experienced in the Church, or LDS men, then you are welcome to the “club.”   And then the full, crushing, distending weight of feminist ideology raises its Gorgon head:

And you’re still an ingénue.  An amateur.  And kissing them feels a little bit like kissing your father. And that unevenness, yes, it’s part of how patriarchy works.

Kissing a guy your same age, who has been away for a couple of years on a mission, while you remained at home, apparently frozen in liquid nitrogen, feels like “kissing your father.”  I see.

“The Patriarchy” is a term within radical feminism borrowed, ultimately, from Marxism, and corresponds closely, in its own context to the proletariat of Marxian mythology.  The patriarchy is the dominant, oppressive force within society; for all intents and purposes, all males and the society they create, and indeed, maleness itself, whose fundamental aim and purpose is the oppression and subjugation of woman.  The patriarchy, like capitalism, cannot exist without such subjugation and this exploitation and oppression of woman is structural; it is an inherent, pervasive, fundamental aspect of every facet of American culture and its institutions.

It is also, while accepting the very real unique kinds of injustice and maltreatment woman have historically suffered at the hands of many men, an ideological myth (like the “white oversociety” of black power ideology, “capitalism,” “Wall Street,” or the all-purpose leftist boogeyman, the “white Eurocentric male”), and a myth that gives birth to ever more myths to support its claims to relevance when it confronts the real world.

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