Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Mormon For President?

I'm not sure how, but I somehow found and enjoy reading their decidedly liberal slant on current events and culture as a countpoint to my decidedly conservative leanings. The following quote from the article linked above is an example of why I enjoy the site.
Romney would not be the first member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to run for the nation's highest office. He follows Orrin Hatch (2000); Mo Udall (1976); his father, George Romney (1968); and not least of all Joseph Smith, who ran in 1844 on a platform of "theodemocracy," abolition, and cutting congressional pay. Despite a strong showing in the Nauvoo straw poll, Smith didn't play much better nationally than Hatch did, and had to settle for the Mormon-elected post of King of the Kingdom of Heaven.
I about fell out of my chair when I got to the last line. How many Mormons would be shocked by that statement? How many would realize that it is true? I wouldn't have until I started reading non-church sources.

I continue to cackle whenever the church's apologists claim that Smith didn't gain anything from his role as prophet other than hardship and persecution. You know, other than never having to hold down a real job, being able to command people in the name of God to build him houses and support him, being able to get loans for the church (and not coincidentally himself as leader of the church), having divinely sanctioned marriages to whoever he wanted, a divinely commanded mansion, a riverboat, power, fame, being King of the World, etc. Other than that there was nothing in it for him.

I sincerely hope that Romney is a front-runner for the presidency because it will force the Mormon church to center stage and bring it the journalistic scrutiny that it so deserves.

Here's another great excerpt addressing whether refusing to consider voting for a devout Mormon represent religious bigotry.
Others, myself included, would not, under most imaginable circumstances, vote for a fanatic or fundamentalist—a Hassidic Jew who regards Rabbi Menachem Schneerson as the Messiah, a Christian literalist who thinks that the Earth is less than 7,000 years old, or a Scientologist who thinks it is haunted by the souls of space aliens sent by the evil lord Xenu. Such views are disqualifying because they're dogmatic, irrational, and absurd. By holding them, someone indicates a basic failure to think for himself or see the world as it is.
Here's the author's take on Joseph Smith and people who believe in him.
If you don't know the story, it's worth spending some time with Fawn Brodie's wonderful biography No Man Knows My History. Smith was able to dictate his "translation" of the Book of Mormon first by looking through diamond-encrusted decoder glasses and then by burying his face in a hat with a brown rock at the bottom of it. He was an obvious con man. Romney has every right to believe in con men, but I want to know if he does, and if so, I don't want him running the country.
She didn't get it quite right. No one saw the magic glasses and I've never seen them described as diamond-encrusted. In fact, I've never read anything indicating that anyone saw him using the "interpreters," as the Book of Mormon calls them, to translate the book. Everyone who witnessed the translation described the rock in a hat method that most Mormons know nothing about. If you buy into miracles and revelation then I can forgive believing in the Urim and Thummim. But as soon as I found out he was using his treaure hunting seer stone it was an immediate deal breaker. There's a good reason the church doesn't tell the correct version of the translation in Sunday school or seminary. Only members sufficiently enmeshed in the belief system would be able to swallow that story. I wonder if Romney is as ignorant of the church's real story as most Mormons are. It goes a long way toward explaining why an otherwise knowledgeable man can believe in such an obvious fraud when you realize that the evidence of the fraud has been carefully concealed from him. However, it still leaves the question of whether you'd vote for a man who'd be willing to avoid looking at contradictory evidence because it conflicts with his personal beliefs. That kind of dogmatism would be decidedly bad for the leader of the free world.

Here's a little more.
One may object that all religious beliefs are irrational—what's the difference between Smith's "seer stone" and the virgin birth or the parting of the Red Sea? But Mormonism is different because it is based on such a transparent and recent fraud. It's Scientology plus 125 years. Perhaps Christianity and Judaism are merely more venerable and poetic versions of the same. But a few eons makes a big difference. The world's greater religions have had time to splinter, moderate, and turn their myths into metaphor. The Church of Latter-day Saints is expanding rapidly and liberalizing in various ways, but it remains fundamentally an orthodox creed with no visible reform wing.
A transparent fraud. I couldn't have said it any better. Why is it so easy to see now and was so difficult to consider for most of my life? This is a question that the nation will have to consider because Mitt Romney and many like him are true believers in this transparent fraud.


Anonymous said...

Some interesting points. I go back on forth on Romney as I think he has done some good as governor in Mass. but then again his strong Mormon faith and ties to the first presidency worry me. So I am starting to lean towards Rudy, and McCain is a non-starter for me.

Bull said...

I've dismissed McCain since his blatant attack on the 1st amendment under the guise of "campaign finance reform."

Anonymous said...

I am not happy with much of the politicians on either side. I go conservative... normally.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Merry Christmas, Bull.

Anonymous said...

I don't tow any party line! Parties keep one rooted in the party no the ideologies of each candidate...not matter what platform they running under...these are just guises meant to sway block voters!
Bull, BTW my dad is a civil engineer for a local company in Austin...They have been working on the highway that runs around Austin towards San Antonio. What kind of engineer are you? Yes, I am a nosey gal!! :D

Anonymous said...

You made me laugh when you asserted "Perhaps Christianity and Judaism are merely more venerable and poetic versions of the same [fraud]. But a few eons makes a big difference." Fraud is better old, ancient? Who are you quoting? How can you say that time makes fraud better?

If you want to say all venerable religions (do you mean worthy of respect and membership, or just established?)are based on metaphor, where are you finding the objects to compare?

Anonymous said...

I went to to check out the noise on Romney. Did you read this posting?

Bull said...

Anon: I was quoting the Slate article. I don't think that the age or social acceptance of a fraud makes it any better. It just seems to make it more socially tolerable. I'd be just as scared of a fundamentalist Jew, Christian, or Muslim in the White House as a fundamentalist Mormon.

I just read the Slate link. It talks about compartmentalization and the ability of people to separate their religious and secular beliefs in order to function normally/rationally in the secular world. I tend to agree and think that the original Slate article was being overly simplistic.

The problem is that these modes of thinking can't be completely compartmentalized. So, for example, if a president can't rationally figure out how to deal with a rogue state like Iran, then does he then resort to his other mode of thinking and then make a decision based on fasting, prayer, and what he believes is divine inspiration. Once he has done this, is he able to revert to rational decision making if new evidence presents itself to suggest that his "inspiration" was flawed? I think that there is some evidence that this problem confronts the current president who made a tough decision that he believes was right but seems unable to deal with the evidence that perhaps it wasn't a good choice or that his approach to implementing it isn't working.

So far it seems that Romney has been able to compartmentalize pretty well. After all, he's a Mormon Republican governor is the 1st or 2nd most liberal state in the country, the other being the PRC (Peoples Republic of California).

Bull said...

JOOM: I've got degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. I make a pretty good living by breaking other people's stuff. I'm a contractor that does logic verification which means I try to make sure that computer chips do what they are supposed to do.

The last 6 years of Republicans running Congress and the Presidency has pretty much soured me on both parties since they are doing all of the same wasteful, powermongering crap that the Democrats did in the past. The differences between the two parties are pretty small, as it turns out and neither seems to have any interest in good government.

Right now my swing issue is gun control since on everything else that I care about both parties seem to have gotten it wrong.

Anonymous said...

OHHH, you are the computer geek of my dreams. I just pray each time I push the button on my computer it works...or else I'll have to haul ass to visit the "geek squad" at Best Buy!! Cool job!!
So Bull, how about where you stand on gun control? I personally own 5 guns...three hand guns, two shot-guns. I have a membership at a shooting range and LOVE to go practice. I grew up with "hunter/gatherer" brothers and although, I don't hunt, I love my guns. It's an awesome hobby. For me it goes even deeper. I don't like to think the only person allowed to own/know how to use a gun should be the government and it's soldiers. Civilian gun ownership to me, is just another form of check and balance for our "would be kings". We are obligated to be revolutionaries if said leadership runs afoul.
OK, now I sound like an extremist! But is one of our founding rights and I wouldn't want that to change.

Bull said...

Ever heard of popular sovereignty? It's the rather revolutionary concept that the People should rule the government rather than the other way around. But if the people give up all of the guns to the government then how can they take control back if the government decides to turn the tables.

It sounds like we are on the same page. I have a CHL and my .45 is comfortably at my side as I type away in my castle. I'm not a great shot, but I'm far better than average and certainly capable of reliably hitting what I'm aiming at. I'm not a gun nut, but have all of the necessary bases covered: 3 handguns, 30-06, 12 gauge, 20 gauge, and .22 rifle.

I'm a gadget freak. I also have lots of other tools in the garage and also know how to use them competently.

I also like introducing non-shooters to shooting sports. I find it amusing and rewarding to see them go from being very nervous and uncertain to having much, much more fun than they ever thought they would. Most people don't realize that shooting is just plain fun.

Geez. I'm heading to the range today.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

I've never shot a gun. I know who to look up if I ever want to go shooting and get comfortable with it now!