Blood and Horror on this Earth

Thousands and thousands of Mormons all over the world attend temple services on a daily basis, and thousands and thousands will watch a metaphorical reenactment of the creation story.   Included in this drama is an exchange between God and Satan.

In a rage with God for cursing him, Satan threatens to overcome the will of the ‘children of men’ and cause them/make them/and take them as his followers.  God counters by declaring that in his human design he will include a bugfix that will engender within mortals a feeling of natural repugnance and revulsion toward Satan’s purposes.

As his rage climaxes Lucifer storms (paraphrasing):

“If that is the case then, let my intention be clear.  I will harness and redirect this human aggression to my selfish purposes and use it to raise financial capital enough to purchase military power wherever it might be found, I will speak my will through bogus clerics who press down upon the people, and despots and tormenters whose exercise of power causes death and terror throughout the world.”

And then, at the conclusion of the temple service,  thousands and thousands of Mormons, having been apprised of  the darkest and most determining of Satan’s intentions, ie. his interest in a systemic takeover of the world’s institutions, happily change out of their polyester whites, get a burger  and go back to believing that the world is about to go to hell in a hand basket because of porn, beer, Muslims, and body piercings.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not in favour of porn or beer, but I think they are a ruse, a distraction, and a seduction that renders humans politically impotent, rather than ripe for hell.  My question is:  How did  our religious culture get into a state where our most recent efforts to be politically influential fell upon gay marriage rather  than a much needed  critique of the corporate/state nexus, the failed ‘just-war’ rhetoric, the maintenance of oppression and systemic inequality, all so much a part of Satan’s master plan? .  How did we get into a state where trolling through dead white dude quotes in the Gospel Doctrine manual is preferable to dialoging about real life political and economic contexts that are proof of Lucifer’s ideological and systemic assault on humanity, and Christ’s message of salvation?

Over the last weeks we have witnessed a crass repetition of the rhetoric that supposedly justified recent military action by the US.    And, in the wake of the Syrian debate the Pope has called for a day of prayer for Syria,  Catholics leaders in Syria have argued that a US invasion will simply fuel extremists,  the World Evangelical Council has denounced a military assault, the Archbishop of Canterbury has cautioned against military action in Syria and the Mormon Newsroom?  Well, go look for yourself.

Why – one might ask- does ‘the church’ not produce a statement of moral position on Syria (or on other political crises)?  Why? Perhaps it is for the same reason that McDonalds, Ernst & Young,  Intel and Microsoft haven’t made a statement of moral position on Syria!   Why would a corporation currently trafficking mostly in spiritual maxims and emotional aphorisms with the promise of an uncomplicated middle-class lifestyle be interested in upsetting its economic and cultural base?

If our most sacred of doctrines, presented to us in a repetitious dramatic form really mean something to the Latter-day Saints then perhaps some moral outrage could have been expected at Kerry’s admission that: With ‘a financial investment certain gulf states are willing to buy up US armies and navies’ to execute a strike on a sovereign state that poses no direct threat to the US.

Or if the temple service had any practical credibility perhaps there may have been an LDS response questioning deeply the leaders of the world who wish to  grow  their strategic influence through the use of blood and horror?

I recall the October 2001 General Conference when President Hinckley was handed a note informing him of an assault by British and US forces on Afghanistan he declared after,  “We need to support the President (meaning President Bush).”  I’ve heard some passably daft things over the pulpit in my time, but never anything that made me literally sick to my stomach.  Hinckley tried to patch this up in the following April announcing ‘We find ourselves on two sides of  great debate.’  His October announcement had won him few foreign friends with many feeling as that this wasn’t a great debate at all -it was the church aligning itself with the US Government’s illicit invasion at the expense of good sense, evidence and ethics.  Yet the temple fittingly reminds us:  Acta deos numquam mortalia fallunt!!  (Man’s actions  never deceive the Gods).

These days the official Mormon response to moral outrages (except it would seem – those of a sexual kind) is silence.  Mormon leaders are cautious in making any declaration that might have political implications.  And might I say that this has little to do with the lack of  political feeling among the Saints.  There are plenty of political debates and choruses amidst the congregations that dot the entire spectrum.  However, with all of that, there are few political questions which are solved by a robust canonical exposition from the Church ‘brothers’.   Ronald Poelman’s famous 1984 address that never was, was a timely attempt to recalibrate our social organisation with our theology.  He made a bold effort to address the difference between the Church and the Gospel.  Unfortunately, notwithstanding its breadth and its beauty, it soon became apparent that this powerful discourse was clearly not deemed worthy of congregational ears.  Fancy Mormons thinking that we needed the gospel more than the church?  Scandalous!!

My only conclusion is that this tendency to avoid  the world’s real-time heart aches and pain will plunge the LDS church into irrelevance and oblivion.  If the only response we can muster – when the screws are on –  is that which is politically and economically expedient enough to secure our legal identity and resources (Official Declarations 1 & 2 are a case in point) then we cease to have purpose as a religious institution – we are merely a religious ethnicity rather than a powerful voice guided by moral vision.

The tendency to dismiss our own canon, and our own ceremonial discourse will  have its consequences.  And perhaps it will be that people of my ilk will bail – which I’m sure will be met by many with a sigh of relief and a sneer of derision. But without a robust voice demanding a reconciliation of theology with action, and moral vision with moral purpose, Mormonism is in danger of becoming politically obsolete.  And having been commissioned to establish a Zion society premised on a clear vision of equality, kindness and compassion, that seems rather pointless and self-defeating doesn’t it?

 

 

  • Ron_Madson

    Gina, you have expressed bluntly and eloquently why we are starved for moral leadership in our own faith community at the highest levels and why we cheer the moral leadership of others such as Pope Francis who has consistently and stridently “renounced” the real blood and sins of our generation without concern as to whether he would be popular in the eyes of the powers that be.

    Now your comments as to Pres. Hinckley’s endorsement of our host nation’s imperial killing machine—there are some out there that believe Pres. Hinckley in his own way ‘renounced” war. Nonsense. You do not have George Bush place the medal of freedom around your neck if “they” the sponsors of war believe that you had, as Pope Francis is doing now, without reservation renounced their wars.

    Time to speak out ourselves. We do not need wait for “leadership” in our own faith community. “We” are the church. All of us.

    ldsrenouncewar.org

    • Gina Colvin

      Yay Ron! Your ideas for changing the discourse? Maybe a lecture series, a film, a book, an action coalition, a symposium to complement your wonderful work? Time to plot and plan methinks!

    • SickOf BeingCoddled

      that is a good thing__ you recognize that I am responsible for my
      actions /responses to those things I see in society that are against the
      teachings of my church. this is true responsibility and accountability.
      The “church ” says every day what its position is : If you have been a member of the “church” for very long,
      you know that the foundation is faith in God , repentance, Baptism,
      receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring in righteousness( personal responsibility and accountability,)
      to the end. Each of us needs to live this to the best of our ability and
      apply the principles and values to whatever it is in life we decide is
      our mission to be involved in. Wanting the Church to make some specific statement on the shifting sands of political or moral daily issues is not
      what a firm and steadfast foundation does. It stands for what it stands
      for and you choose to live your life according to your desires that you
      choose. Weather they be in line with the word of God is for God to
      judge. Your last paragraph pegs it fully. God is our father, he has
      taught us well, it is up to us to use the tools he has given us. desire,
      prayer, analyze and plan, prayer, action prayer, evaluate and proceed.
      God will not do for us what we could and should do for ourselves; he
      loves us too much to rob us of the valuable lessons we need to learn. My
      governor has a motto-all tiny two letter words “IF IT IS TO BE IT IS UP TO ME” so i say to you all- add these to the end of that motto–and YE. Don’t blame the church blame ourselves for not living up to the responsibilities that are encumbent upon us because of our sacred knowledge of his plan.

  • Alison Udall

    This is one of the most powerful things I’ve read in a while. It hits the nail on the head and is valid, worthwhile and needed. I’m going to go out on a limb and post this on my Facebook wall even though it will make some uncomfortable. Thanks so much for articulating this so well.

    • Gina Colvin

      Thanks Alison! Enjoy the outer reaches of limb! Don’t worry its usually me that get’s eviscerated but I’m happy to take one for the team!

  • http://theshippinglane.com G-Off

    Pretty great read. You posit some interesting questions. How DID we get hung up on gay marriage and the like while seemingly ignoring other issues? And this isn’t even to argue whether the gay marriage crusade was just or not. Either way, it kept us pretty distracted from other things.

    But I think the Church is definitely slow at this point to tip its hand. We hate conflict. We hate it so much now that we do our best to be chummy with other Christians at the potential sacrifice of clearly demonstrating what makes the restored gospel very, very different from mainstream Christianity.

    I’ll mull this over a bit more. We’ll likely give it some discussion on our podcast, This Week in Mormons. Thanks again.

    • joseph peterson

      I was just about to shoot this your way G-Off!! (shakes fist)

      • http://theshippinglane.com G-Off

        You have a pretty good success rate in getting us show material before we manage to find it.

    • Ron_Madson

      G-Off, would you consider the “LDS Renounce War” web site/ signing/sharing with others? Read the “About” and then if time read the “essay” linked to the website. I believe it is time for us LDS to Renounce War. thanks. ldsrenouncewar.og

      • joseph peterson

        so many typos on the website. I thought about renouncing war, until I saw ‘are’ where an ‘our’ should be, and other such details which make the declaration seem less credible.

        • Gina Colvin

          Yes quite right! Only renounce war after consulting the dictionary Ron!

        • Ron_Madson

          Joseph, thanks for pointing out the mistake you mentioned. Someone else had also pointed that out, but I am a technotard and I had to have someone show me how to edit out the mistake–which I just did. Are there any other typos/mistakes that you could point out so that we can have a chance to fix the problem? Thanks in advance.

        • http://theshippinglane.com G-Off

          All are punished.

    • MagicalMe

      I don’t understand the perspective that the order of marriage and family is something that is a distraction rather than an eternal issue of great importance. Marriage is a point of contention among citizens because marriage is a cultural ideal defined by the government according to very narrow, traditional Protestant definitions. Everyone wants their ideal represented in American law, because each culture believes their ideal is best for society. We are no different.

      In LDS doctrine, we believe that the family is the basic unit of society, and that alterations of this unit will lead to its break up, and therefore the breakup and downfall of society itself. We believe that many of society’s ills are the result of the alteration of the order of family, and it’s for that reason that Satan himself so frequently targets the family. That’s a fairly significant idea, is it not? Does the Church of Jesus Christ, whose responsibility it is to instruct in things eternal, not have a responsibility to fervently support one of its core ideals–ideals of such significance that it potentially means the destruction of society? And if the marriage debate is genuinely about gay rights, as many claim, why then do people not discuss the rights of other citizens whose cultural ideals of marriage are not represented in American law, and who are therefore robbed of the rights marriage recognition offers?

      Syria is one of many, many temporal issues that include immense human suffering. Must the church, a worldwide organization tasked with the execution of the eternal gospel of Christ, comment on every temporal issue, or only the issues important in the eyes of the American public? And what types of comments are we expecting? Mere condemnation, which would be obvious (as if the church would support mass slaughter) or instruction?

      We no longer live in a land where men of God run the country, or even a country where most people desire that which is of God. I don’t mean to say that there are no good people or good leaders, I only mean to say that even if the church were to “instruct” our leaders how to run the country, would politicians’ motivations really be righteousness?

      Harmony with other religions and people of the world is far better than conflict. The gospel cannot thrive among contentiousness.

  • Brian J

    Death isn’t a big deal … as long as the blood and horror of this Earth is kept somewhere conveniently out of sight, sanitized for the propaganda network, and for consumption by children: adults who are children and the young.

    It matters more to the soldiers who have to do the brutal and ugly work of killing our brothers and sisters for Satan. The sweet hymns of the restoration fade and kilter off tune a bit, the warble of the real world breaks that magical warmth in their bosom.

    Murder work is hard, back breaking, soul breaking work; thrusting bayonet into the gut of that “enemy combatant” (someone’s father) while he cries and pukes up his falafel; the child clinging to the corpse of her mother, the top burned beyond human recognition by the hellish furnace of high explosive rounds; the girl will die of dysentery next week in an orphanage (but Christ has saved her, she is not yet eight). The sick and elderly writhing in agonizing pain because the electricity in the make-shift hospital has gone out again, and there’s no diesel for the backup generators to be had at any price. You can’t always buy everything in this world, with money, I guess. *shrug*

    The soldiers will come back as heroes, changed, not the same anymore. Many will have drinking problems. Some will be missing limbs. Many will have scars on their bodies, all will have scar tissue on their hearts. Some will end their life. None really want to talk about it. Isn’t that convenient?

    But don’t let that trouble you sisters and brothers. It doesn’t happen here. It can’t, right? We are protected by our righteousness, so it doesn’t really matter. We have just finished helping _________, who is dead. And now they are freed from a metaphorical prison in the great beyond. We have changed into our street clothes and go grab a burger, feeling satisfied that all is well in Zion. Gosh, I’m going to have to hit the gym extra hard this week if I want to keep looking beautiful. That is why they hate us, you know: because of our freedoms and because we are beautiful. All is well. All is well.

    We thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen.

    • Gina Colvin

      Quite right Brian! Wave a flag, sing the anthem and thank God we aren’t in the firing line of a drone strike. God so loved the West he blessed us with the glittering illusion of our own greatness and guns clever enough to kill without having to see the blood on the ground!

  • kiwiinamerica

    Gina you may be getting slightly ahead of yourself on Syria. As things stand right now the likelihood of Congressional support weakens with each passing day. With PM Cameron unable to get the support of the House of Commons, Obama was deterred from unilateral action especially with the UNSC conflicted by Russia and China’s partisan position on Syria. If the TAB took bets on an attack on Syria, the odds will be getting longer and longer.

    With the exception of Pres Hinckley’s knee jerk comment regarding the US invasion of Iraq, the church, at least officially, has refrained from substantive comments about global political issues especially wars. If you think that the church’s failure to take some Anglican-like stance on the situation in Syria will doom it to oblivion then you seem oddly ignorant of the well studied demographic trends of LDS church growth that has continued unabated despite the failure of church leaders to take the type of principled stand on these issues considered so important to progressive left leaning academics.

    • Gina Colvin

      Ouch – you caught me out! I’m a progressive left leaning academic and of what possible use in this church would I be – there are far far too many of us! It might be that what the church really needs is more conservative right leaning market liberal entrepreneurs to really balance things out and provide a fresh perspective.

      I’m pleased that Russia is showing good global leadership!

      • kiwiinamerica

        Nothing wrong with progressive left leaning LDS socialists having and expressing their opinions but to imply that the church faces oblivion because it might not support or articulate the left’s world view you have to admit was over the top and not borne out by history.

        • Gina Colvin

          I think you’ve hit the nail right on the head! Things might go far more swimmingly in the public sphere if they did espouse progressive left wing politics! Could be a great for PR. They should try it!

  • Ryan

    What I am hearing here essentially boils down to “The stuff that the prophet says is of man and not of God.” For example the Official Declarations of the Doctrine and Covenants. The article seems to posit that these were in response to social pressure only, and not revelation. If that is the case- if what we are receiving from our leaders is not revelation, but only theological ideas- then why does it matter if the church fades into oblivion? The question is whether these “dead white dudes” are only that, or whether they actually truly are prophets, seers, and revelators. If they are not, then the church, and frankly the gospel it espouses, are useless, not being of God. But if they are, then maybe we would do well to listen to them, recognizing that “to be learned is good, if they hearken unto the counsels of God.”

    • Gina Colvin

      No Ryan! – don’t have a faith crisis on me! But by the church’s own standard: “Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church”. Our doctrine comes from a thorough exposition of the standard works of the church. You might have to lower your expectations of leaders a bit. They are only mortals – jeepers!

      • Ryan

        Agreed. The official declarations, however, are binding revelation. Canonized scripture endorsed by the first presidency and quorum of the 12 and not merely responses to social pressure.

  • Ryan

    I also take issue with the statement “…the official Mormon response to moral outrages… is silence.” Maybe it’s more a matter of doing something rather than just “dialoging.” It’s pretty well documented that the church makes a massive contribution to global relief of all this suffering your talking about, whether it be to victims of war, natural disasters, or the every day calamities of life. Maybe the church doesn’t always say what you want it to say, but from where I stand it sure does do what the Savior would do.

    • Ryan

      There is a reply to my initial comment that asks me to back my claim of “massive global relief” with data. For whatever reason, that reply continues to await moderation and I can not reply to it directly. Nevertheless, I submit the following:

      Wikipedia has a brief overview of what the church does with humanitarian aid: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LDS_Humanitarian_Services#LDS_Humanitarian_Initiatives

      Here is a more detailed description of various humanitarian, welfare, and other programs we have with links:
      http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/humanitarian-aid-welfare-services-breakdown-donations-costs-resources

      Then lds.org lists thousands of projects across the world that the church runs here:
      http://ldscharities.org/where-we-are?lang=eng#16928166853402632555-eng

      Here is a fact sheet with some numbers:
      http://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/english/pdf/welfare/2011-welfare-services-fact-sheet.pdf

      Here is another one:
      http://ldscharities.org/bc/ldscharities/content/english/articles/why-we-help/pdf/2011%20Humanitarian%20Summary.pdf

      And that’s just some of the stuff at the general level. Then there is the aid provided locally from fast-offering money and such, which is not always as easy to access since it is managed at the local level. However, I did find reports from Canada of fast offering and other welfare expenditures. You can see them here: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/ebci/haip/srch/basicsearchresult-eng.action?s=registered&k=latter-day&b=true&p=1#pageControl

      I took a sample of 100 of the 478 wards and branches listed in Canada for 2012. On average each ward gave about $400,000 a year each to “Charitable Program” and “Gifts to other registered charities and qualified donees,” the latter making up the bulk of that. That’s about $385,000 US per unit in one year. At the end of 2012 there were about 29,000 wards and branches world wide. Assuming Canada’s average is representative of the global average, that’s about $11.6 billion US in one year. Even if we assume that Canada’s average is 10X greater than the global average, that’s still $1.1-1.2 billion US in one year.

      And then, of course, there are the undocumented relief efforts that individual members make on their own because they live the Gospel, as in the case where my wife nearly died after giving birth to my premature son. Did the church help us out? You better believe it.

      • Gina Colvin

        I’m not suggesting that the church doesn’t do splendid humanitarian work. I believe my post was a challenge for Mormons to take the temple more seriously than we do.

        • Ryan

          I get that. But you seem to be saying that Mormons are missing the mark set in the temple by not combating the blood and horrors that Satan is raining down on the earth. My contention is that this humanitarian and welfare stuff is HOW we combat it, and that maybe we do a better job of it than this post gives us credit for.

    • Gina Colvin

      So are you saying that the Saviour would have nothing to say? Yet he was always quoting Isaiah and he sure had something to say about Syria.

      • Ryan

        Not sure what quoting Isaiah has to do with the situation at hand. As for Syria, I can’t really find anywhere where Jesus talks about it. It’s mentioned in the New Testament a total of 8 times, twice in the Gospels. None of these references does much more than acknowledge its existence, and none of them are direct quotes from the Savior. The Old Testament mentions Syria much more, but usually in a bad light or in acknowledgement of its existence. Isaiah 17 makes some mention of Syria being as the glory of Israel one day- is that why you brought up Isaiah?

        More to the point of your question, though- would the Savior say anything? Maybe. I am willing to trust His mouthpiece on that. Meanwhile, actions speak louder than words, and I know the Savior would do something to help those who suffer. Hence the reference to all the relief efforts. Perhaps the Savior is “saying” something about healing human suffering in general by, well, healing human suffering. Will that come for Syria? Probably. In His own due time. In fact, the church is already helping Syrian refugees, which you can read about here: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-responds-to-over-100-disasters-in-2012–including-sandy

    • Kyle

      Via this logic, the church supports Syrian’s rights to massive shopping malls.

      • Ryan

        You’re gonna have to explain the chain of logic you’re using to get there.

  • Margaret Blair Young

    Thank you, Gina. I am in the camp which still remembers and honors Pres. Kimball’s “The False Gods We Worship.” Also, a reminder that in the temple film, which you paraphrase beautifully, Satan is lying when he speaks of his power. He is easily cast out in Christ’s name. Our adherence to Christian values (including “Love thy enemy”) is the way out of “blood and horrors.”

  • ClintonKing

    Wouldn’t it serve the Lord’s purposes for the US to invade Syria and give the people there a greater chance for liberty then they currently possess? It certainly served the Lord’s purposes for France to provide materials and funding for the American Revolutionaries in 1776.

    • Gina Colvin

      No. You ARE joking aren’t you?

  • YellowBlueRed

    A word on the moral statements by other, apparently more noble (gutsy?), religious leaders:

    Apart from the Catholic Church’s noble and righteous goal to be a moral voice in the world, one main reason that the Holy See and The Pope issue political statements so often is because, in addition to being Catholic Headquarters, the Holy See is a sovereign political entity, and the Pope is its head of state. It is a sovereign nation with national interests, a diplomatic arm (Secretariat of State), and political equities on a global scale – including in Syria, a cradle of ancient Catholicism/Christianity. Furthermore, your statement about Catholics in Syria being against western intervention is a completely moot point. I’d suggest you seek a greater understanding of Middle Eastern religious minorities’ political allegiances before you take Syrian Christians seriously in their opposition to western intervention. Because of the Assad regime’s historically dependable secularism and decided ambivalence toward Christians, the Christians in Syria have actually been cheering on Assad’s military campaign of death waged against the mainly Sunni Muslim opposition. Syrian Christians’ truest desire right now is maintaining a political and military regime that is tolerant of various religions (theirs, specifically).

    Indeed, Syrian Christians seem staunchly against the use of military force by all parties, except when it’s wielded by the Assad regime against Syrian Muslims. In the current climate, the Christians are pro-self preservation, and a weakening of the Assad regime through western military intervention could infringe very tangibly on that.

    In fact, your reference to the “World Evangelical Council” (I’m assuming you meant the World Evangelical Alliance) letter denouncing a western military assault actually said nothing more that what I explained above – that military intervention could lead to harder times for Arab Christians, particularly in Syria. So while a statement expressing disapproval of military intervention was made, it was not a moral appeal to the idea of anti-intervention and peace for peace’s sake. It was no more than a declaration of anxiety toward the plight of Syrian Christian communities. They should feel some anxiety. Syrian Christians have been clearly allegiant to, and consistently outspoken in their support for the bloodthirsty Syrian regime. I don’t envy the Christians’ position in this conflict, I really don’t. But let’s do call a spade a spade.

    Even the Archbishop of Canterbury did not seem to take a moral stance on the issue of western military force. He made statements appealing to his government officials to think hard about the decision, and carefully consider all of the facts before a vote on British military intervention. That’s great advice!

    Lastly, I agree with what a previous commentator said about the LDS church being involved in a very real way. Which would you prefer: a church that issues lofty statements about the morality/immorality of armed conflict, or a church that goes on the ground into Syrian refugee camps to deliver humanitarian aid to a war-ravaged people who are experiencing suffering on an unimaginable scale?

    What is worth more: a statement that provides discussion fodder for Sunday School, Relief Society, and Priesthood Quorums; or actually enacting pure religion by helping our fellow man who is very much in need?

    If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here:

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865565323/LDS-Charities-gives-million-dollar-humanitarian-effort-for-Syrian-refugees.html

    and here:

    http://youtu.be/E1-hTQfJMNM

    • Gina Colvin

      So who gets to decide who in the world is in need? Is that the ward council? I want to see my church privileging its doctrines above its religious-cultural mythologies. Don’t explain away the response of other faith communities as arising out of some kind of self-interest as if the Mormon church’s silence is not indicative of some kind of drive toward political self-preservation. The fact is the church has a history of making an absolute botch up their public politics that its lost its confidence. And by the way – pure religion is laying ones life down for ones friend.

      • Guest

        Nice try: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this; to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” – James 1:27

        You’re thinking of a different scripture about a different virtue (hint: John 15:13).

        Secondly, the Mormon church’s silence in this instance is really only in words. That was my point. Which is a more worthy pursuit, the words or the deeds? In other very meaningful ways, the Church has not been silent. You seem intent on demanding the Church’s doctrine be exhibited primarily through public statements, and not by actually doing things. “By their press releases ye shall know them,” I suppose. I fail to see how providing humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees while avoiding public statements on a government’s potential use of kinetic force constitutes a “botch-up” of the Church’s public politics. (To be honest, I fail to see why this Syria issue, of necessity, falls into the Church’s “public” politics to begin with.)

        And I absolutely will explain away the responses from some (not all) faith communities on the matter as heavy self-interest, because that is very clearly what it is. If you’re going to attempt an actual counter-argument on that, I’m all ears.

        As to your very first question, I have no idea, sounds like a good question for your bishop.

        • Gina Colvin

          Fair cop on the scripture reference.

          My post made little suggestion that the church was socially impotent or without humanitarian will. My suggestion (if you would care to read it more carefully) was that our doctrine (as apparent in the temple endowment) points to us to be concerned greatly with Lucifer’s stated aims. Or is this interchange between Satan and God just esoteric fluff that we can ignore? Are we supposed to give Lucifer a pass on this and treat it like a childish tantrum that he’ll one day get over? I choose to believe it means something.

          I don’t consider my expectation unreasonable that the organisation that espouses such doctrines, and expects we sit through a demonstration of those doctrines ‘where practicable’- publicly shares those doctrines when a relevant context arises.

          With respect to your cynicism about the feeling behind the statement of other faith communities; not every religion is as bad as we’d like to think, nor as good as we’d hoped – and that goes for ours too.

          BTW that was rhetorical – my Bishop is a good man. He’d tell me I get to decide who has need.

          • Darren

            “My suggestion (if you would care to read it more carefully) was that our doctrine (as apparent in the temple endowment) points to us to be concerned greatly with Lucifer’s stated aims.”
            if you read the conference reports, even from dead white dudes, and do so more carefully, you’ll notice there is not promotion of war from President Hinkley. He’s saddened by it and finds happiness in the moments of service. Like how happy he was when he found out tha the US is dropping food upon the Afghanistan people. He expressed how proud he was that our nation, his nation, fed those of a nation whom the US deemed her enemy.

  • kiwiinamerica

    I’m curious Gina – did you support American intervention in World War 1, World War 2 and the Korean War?

    • Gina Colvin

      I didn’t support WW1, WW2 or the Korean War so why would I support a participant in that war? If you want me to give the US a big thumbs up for their albeit belated support of the Allies and thereafter give them a pass on every military action they design to take – that is simply a nonsense. And anyway – my post wasn’t about America – it was about the temple and LDS doctrine.

      • kiwiinamerica

        Gina this entire post was prompted by the mere possibility of a limited US strike on Syria – your recommendations to your readers was that we should take our cues as to how to respond to this from what we know from Satan’s pronouncements in the endowment. Railing against the mainstream capitalist centre-right orientation of America and the church is a recurrent theme in your blog.
        At least you have confirmed your position at the pacifist far left edge of the political spectrum. You’d make John Minto proud. I’d venture to say any poll of New Zealanders today would put support for the Allies efforts to rid the world of the tyrannies of the Axis powers in WW 2 in the 90th percentile.

        • Darren

          “New Zealand entered the Second World War by declaring war on Nazi Germany with Britain. The state of war with Germany was officially held to have existed since 9.30pm on 3 September 1939, simultaneous with that of Britain, but in fact the declaration of war was not made until confirmation had been received from Britain that their ultimatum to Germany had expired.”
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_history_of_New_Zealand_during_World_War_II
          Dang, those New Zealnders are brutal.

    • Gina Colvin

      Jeff!!!!!

  • Rachael

    Interesting post. I’m curious as to what kinds of involvement you would like to see the Prophet/the Church take on; more often than not, I hear complaints of the Church being “political” (ERA, Prop 8, etc.); are you criticizing them for not being politically involved enough, or for simply being inconsistent about it?

  • MagicalMe

    Hmm. I have significant difficulty with what you advocate, because it appears to advocate the loss of our eternal perspective.

    Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why Syria is so important in comparison to other problems and issues of the world? Let’s say that we are correct in saying that Assad has deliberately targeted civilians. How is that more “morally outrageous” than what happens in the DR Congo, where children are forced to become soldiers and are desensitized by murdering their families? Or the Buddhists brutally ethnically cleansing the Muslims of Myanmar? What about the 2.5 million people that are trafficked into slavery every year? Or the people that struggle under Mugabe’s dictatorship in Zimbabwe? Or the 10 million other refugees in the world? How is the suffering of Syrians any worse than millions of others? And I don’t mean that to discount their suffering–quite the opposite. I mean to point out the immense amount of suffering that exists in regions that don’t make daily headlines in the western media. Do you see my point?

    Syria is important to Americans (and our allies) because we have an invested interest in the region. But the Church of Jesus Christ is not an American church, nor is it a political organization. It is the execution of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is responsible for for the spiritual well-being of ALL mankind–not just American-kind, or British-kind, or Kiwi-kind, or Russian-kind, or Syrian-kind. If the church must comment on temporal American issues, then it must also comment on every other temporal issue in the world. Why would a worldwide church, whose responsibility it is to execute the eternal gospel of Christ, focus on the temporal, political issues of a single region of subjective importance? It would be much, MUCH too easy to get caught up on temporal issues and forget the eternal, which is what the gospel of Christ is all about.

    And you know what’s eternal? Marriage. Family. Charity. Agency. Atonement. Hence why the church “gets hung up on” these issues, as you would phrase it. Do you genuinely believe that yet another conflict in the Middle East is of greater importance than the millions of souls who struggle with the things that can eternally harm their spirit, such as sexual immorality or addiction? Have you forgotten that Christ Himself specifically warned us to be less concerned about that which can harm the body, and instead fear that which can harm the soul?

    The truth is that you don’t really want the church to comment on every issue, you just want it to comment on issues that are important to YOU. And you appear to genuinely believe that if the church doesn’t comment on the issues you deem politically important, that it will eventually cease to be relevant. But it’s actually quite the opposite. Churches that set themselves up as political mouthpieces will alter and change as much as the political issues they comment on. They’ll eventually lose their foundation and credibility. They will make bad decisions with horrific repercussions. It is only principles of an eternal nature that endure.

    The Catholic church has long been involved in politics, often to their detriment–or even the detriment of say, 600,000 Serbs who were executed at the hands of the Ustashe the Catholic church supported during WWII. Who is to say that the decisions the make about Syria are correct, given their past political involvement? Evangelical Christians have long blurred the lines between gospel and politics, to the point their doctrine has now become “the teachings of men, mingled with scripture.” You can even see that such mingling of politics and gospel have permeated church membership, to the point that some members actually believe that the Republican party is God’s party, as if God actually cares about political partisanship, borders or nationality. The only reason God would care about a person’s nationality is because of the eternal principle of “where much is given, much is required.” Other than that, you’ll be standing in the judgement line in between a Bangladeshi Sikh and a Chinese shaman, nary a passport in sight.

    So long as the world exists in its current form, there will always be dictators. There will always be war, poverty and famine in one place or another. The prophets–or “dead white dudes” to you–have long spoken of these things and what they mean from the eternal perspective. They are temporal issues that change from day to day, region to region, person to person. It’s not that they are insignificant, it’s simply that the purpose of the gospel is to emphasize the eternal principles, not the temporal ones. Why? Because eternal principles can help to manage every single temporal one. Want to know the answer to Syria? Head to the scriptures, conference talks and Sunday school lessons. The answers are already there. How about a little effort and self-governance?

    I find it extraordinarily sad that your cynicism has led you to believe that the reason for the church’s broad, eternal focus is because they simply don’t want to “rock the boat” for the sake of good PR. Have you ever thought that it might be simply because we need to focus more on eternity than ever before? We have long been taught we should have an eternal perspective. Politics is not our religion and we should never let it become such.

  • Raymond McIntyre

    Gina, good post! You raise important questions. I am looking forward to the discussion on this.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    How much time did Jesus spend talking about war, or the evils of government when he was here walking the earth?

    Virtually none.

    He had much bigger fish to fry.

    Two kingdoms doctrine. NO political gospels!

  • echarles1

    I enjoy your blog while disagreeing with most of your political views (save for Syria where as a Catholic and an American I pray that we do not intervene). I do thank you for posting the video link for Elder Poelman’s speech. I’d never heard of him before but he seemed like a straight shooter.

  • Ganesh Cherian

    I Think Moroni has got your back on this one Gina: Apparently he thought that the ‘blood and horror’ of this world should be challenged and exposed: Ether 8

    23 Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.

    24 Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.

    25 For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar whobeguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hathhardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning.

    26 Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved.

    Maybe if we were brave enough to address these things over the pulpit and then work towards it – we might get this amazing world we are suppose to have! :)

  • Ryan

    If you’re still following this, see my reply from several days ago, starting with “There is a reply to my initial comment…”

    For some reason your reply took a while to show up.

  • Darren

    “And then, at the conclusion of the temple service, thousands and thousands of Mormons, having been apprised of the darkest and most determining of Satan’s intentions, ie. his interest in a systemic takeover of the world’s institutions, happily change out of their polyester whites, get a burger and go back to believing that the world is about to go to hell in a hand basket because of porn, beer, Muslims, and body piercings.”

    Gina writes against the American conservative values…what a shock!!! Her writing insights are profound and completely unpredictable. But, ummmmm, Muslims? Huh? What am I missing? Mormons believe that Islam is taking tohe world to Hell? Really? What mormons are our preaching aginst the vile doctrines of Allah and his prophet Mohammed? What insight does Gina have into the mindset, and based upon evidence, does Gina have to mock the temple service into a comical position that Mormons oppose Muslims? I must be quite ignorant and Gina so eruditedly knowledgeable cuz I don’t know of any. Not a single Mormon I know falls into this category. In fact, one reason a friend of mine declare as to why he will not be joiningthe LDS Church is because it is not anti-Islamic “enough”. (By that he meant it wasn’t anti-Islamic at all). Weird. I must be behind the Utah bubble of ignorance, oh, wait, I’ve never lived in Utah except for attending BYU nor do I remotely care to live there.

    “How did our religious culture get into a state where our most recent efforts to be politically influential fell upon gay marriage rather than a much needed critique of the corporate/state nexus, the failed ‘just-war’ rhetoric, the maintenance of oppression and systemic inequality, all so much a part of Satan’s master plan? .”
    Now that we learned from Gina that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is or has been moving/moved away from its temple doctrines, why is it that the LDS Church has taken a political position against gay marriage? Let’s see, now that we have a US president who officially supports gay marriage after being against it, the world hates us more than even and terrorist attacks agianst the US have increased. The same pro gay marriage president supported the Muslim Brotherhood who is linked to Al Qa’ida while Egypt correctly decided to hunt them down and shoot them and now banned them, negotiates with Iran, and allows Russia to oversee its best Middle East alley, Syria to deplete its weapons of mass destruction, etc. Now, how is this connected to gay marriage? I ismply find no coincidence that social chaso increases when society focuses less on family strength. Marriae to many is doing what feels good. If I were hell bent on destroying society, I would look towards supporting gay marriage as a big plus.

    Then there is the size and scope of government. By supporting gay marriage, society must empower government to enforce it. Society will also look towards government to provide special privileges to gays as their “rights”. Move freedom of religion aside to support gay rights and that’s a victory towards “downfalling” society. The more society falls the easier it is for Satan to gain wealth to amass weapons and “armies” and to teach false doctrines of oppression.

    “dead white dude quotes”

    Yeah, Helaman is nothing but a “dead white dude”. Let’s not listen to him and how to run and army. I mean, he’s white, like Gina, how can we listen to such a person?
    “political and economic contexts that are proof of Lucifer’s ideological and systemic assault on humanity”

    I agree. But Gina’s paraphrasing of Lucifer wasn’t paraphrasing, it was politicizing LDS temple worship. The “real” prarphrasing of Lucifer is as follows: “If that is the case then, let my intention be clear. I will harness and redirect this human aggression to my selfish purposes and use it to take from the rich and redistribute their wealth causing massive opression and economic collapse and in that chaos I and their wealth, which I and my evil servants will use as if it was their own money to begin with, to purchase military power wherever it might be found, throw my political oponants into prison or simply execute them, mock them, turn a blind eye when they are attacked, and give special rights to non traditional marriages by speaking my will through bogus clerics who use Social Justice as their foundational doctrine, press down upon the people, and despots and tormenters whose exercise of power causes death and terror throughout the world. I will raise up Stalin, Musselini, Hitler, Teddy Roosevelt, Theadore Roosevelt (remember the Japanese internment), Woodrow Wilson (openly reviled against the US Constitution), and people who spy on US citizens (hmmm, who could that be, yes, it did begin uner Bush , the jerk)”. Now that’s the “real” monologue Satan spewed in anger.

    ” Why would a corporation currently trafficking mostly in spiritual maxims and emotional aphorisms with the promise of an uncomplicated middle-class lifestyle be interested in upsetting its economic and cultural base?”

    Ah, yes, the LDS church is a corporation. This is fresh. Nobody’s ever packaged the LDS Church that way before. Those corporatists of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. How dare they lead God’s children away from truth. Like this:

    ” 12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

    President Obama had the legal authority to attack Syria. (Not Lybia to the extent he did but Syria, yes).

    And there’s this:

    “The nations of the earth have been divided over the present situation. Feelings have run strong. There have been demonstrations for and against. We are now a world Church with members in most of the nations which have argued this matter. Our people have had feelings. They have had concerns.”

    http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2003/04/war-and-peace?lang=eng
    (The best article I know of regarding fighting wars righteously)

    The ‘continuation’ President Hinkley mentioned in that same article was in reference to the war in Afghanistan. “And so I venture to say something about the war and the gospel we teach. I spoke of this somewhat in our October conference of 2001. When I came to this pulpit at that time, the war against terrorism had just begun. The present war is really an outgrowth and continuation of that conflict. Hopefully it is now drawing to a conclusion.” This is the conference wheren that “dead white guy” Hinkley made you sick to the stomach, Gina. In that despicable conference Hinkley said,”Those of us who are American citizens stand solidly with the president of our nation. The terrible forces of evil must be confronted and held accountable for their actions. This is not a matter of Christian against Muslim. I am pleased that food is being dropped to the hungry people of a targeted nation. We value our Muslim neighbors across the world and hope that those who live by the tenets of their faith will not suffer. I ask particularly that our own people do not become a party in any way to the persecution of the innocent. Rather, let us be friendly and helpful, protective and supportive. It is the terrorist organizations that must be ferreted out and brought down.” President Gordon B. Hinkley obviously had not been to the temple or he would never have procured peace with Muslims.
    As President Hinkley noted in the same conference (I believe), there is room enough in a democracy for descending opinion. He’s absolutely correct. You, Gina, may not have to agree with President Hinkley or any white dude, alive or dead, or any American LDS conservative. But you do not have the right to make light of temple covenants including the sessions which they are offered, nor to declare the leadership astray for corporate or political interests.

  • Blanka Dances

    “How did we get into a state where trolling through dead white dude quotes in the Gospel Doctrine manual is…”

    I don’t appreciate this. You lost me here. This right here lets me know that this is not worth reading. I want to have empathy for your political concerns, but if I let you into my own home, and you said that right there, I would ask you to leave.


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