I’m often torn when I think about religion. As aerin noted last week, sometimes religion does seem to be authentically helpful for some people. But then there are people like the Copelands, of Texas, who preach the “prosperity gospel,” which is basically fraud (promising something you don’t deliver to get someone’s money). Here’s where my inner-conflict over religion comes into play: Religion is a powerful medium that can be used for both good and ill. I used to be okay thinking about things in black and white (basically how I was raised as a Mormon – my religion was god’s religion, all others were Satan’s – nice and simple; black and white), but it’s now apparent that religion is not a black and white phenomenon. Much of religion falls into the gray area between the extremes. To me, there is no question about a**holes like the Copelands who are money grubbing slugs. There is also no question about the authenticity of belief of the Quakers I recently visited in St. Petersburg, FL, who are dedicated to their beliefs of peace and social justice (they spend a lot of time volunteer for activities that push for these goals).
But then there are situations, similar to aerin’s, like my in-laws: They have 3 grandchildren now, only 1 of whom lives close enough for them to visit regularly (about 2 miles away). The others live in different states, thousands of miles away. My mother-in-law would like to visit with her grandchildren even more than she does (she actually has really gone out of her way to visit and is great about visiting, so this isn’t a complaint in any sense), but one of the things that keeps her from visiting even more often is her calling as a temple worker. She doesn’t view her calling as “volunteering”; it’s more like a job. She can’t travel without finding someone to fill her shift, which means she really can’t take much “time off.” The fact that she calls it “time off” when it is a volunteer position is completely bizarre to me. It’s like me volunteering to pick up trash on my street, but feeling obligated to do it 6 days a week and canceling family vacations because of my “obligation.”
aerin also raised the issue of temple work being a waste of time. I’m sure my in-laws feel like their time in the temple is well-spent, because of their beliefs. So, I won’t fault them for their choice of volunteer activity (though, it isn’t really a choice since they were “called” to do this). But it does seem like “callings” in the LDS Church are viewed as something other than a volunteer position. Why is that?
Finally, what should be done about the brazenly corrupt religious groups, like the Copelands? Do we simply follow the aphorism “There’s a sucker born every minute” and pity the fools who give their money to these cretins? Or should they lose their tax exempt status and be regulated?
I think it’s all about moderation – and much of it is gray. For the Copelands, I think it’s worth investigating (as everyone has a responsibility to) where you give your money. I mentioned in the comments in the other post that I believe all religions should have to explain where their money comes from and where it goes in order to continue to get tax exempt status (here in the U.S.).
I am sorry to hear about your in-laws, that your mother in law would like to spend more time with you but does not feel able to. Life is really odd like that sometimes, isn’t it?
We think we have to do something, we think we have various unmovable constraints, but really, we may not. (Money, changing jobs, moving, going back to school, getting help, etc.)
I find for me, it’s not my place to judge where another person chooses to spend their time. I can talk about my feelings or make statements like “I wish we could spend more time together”. But really, I try to enjoy my life no matter what others in my life choose to do with theirs.
It’s a strange philosphy, and not one I was raised with (happiness was having your entire family sitting with you in the church pew on Sundays).
I don’t know. I’ve just come to a strange acceptance that people are who they are, and it’s not my place to tell them to change (not that you or anyone was/were suggesting that).
Altruism only takes you so far.
I’m thankful that there are a few coercive mechanisms in place that take up the slack for me. I find it rather helpful.
Coercion is one thing, but the bamboozling helps no one. It’s knowing there are so many authentic Mormon believers that makes it so annoying to watch all the Mormon a**holes out there grubbing for the believing dollar just like the Copelands.
An example of “brazen” from my reading today … The More Good Foundation is promoting a new “Adopt an LDS Website” plan.
MGF’s pitch for this project:
“The fact that you are a Mormon doing this means that people who visit the site will automatically learn more about who we are as a people, our diversity, our varied interests. This can often lead to further interest in our faith and serves in a significant and yet simple way to dispel misperceptions that are otherwise prevalent on the Net and in the media about us.”
Sounds cheesy and innocuous, yes?
Problem is, the gal running the program over at MGF is none other than Gayle Ruzicka’s BFF, Karen Merkley. Back in February, Karen and Gayle worked tirelessly to persuade the Utah legislature to block the Common Ground bills.
You can watch Karen in action here:
Karen’s a UFI tool (United Families International … http://unitedfamilies.org/default.asp?contentID=30 ) … She’s exactly the type of gay-bashing Mormon wingnut who’s responsible for the prevalence of many of the perceptions that she’s now apparently enlisting the rank-and-file to combat via MGF’s latest brilliant scheme.
More to the point of this post, like her UFI and Eagle Forum buddies, she’s a parasite on the body of believers. I might pity someone who was volunteering all their available time to a church, but especially if that person was my elder, I’d probably keep my mouth shut and respect their choices; not so when it comes to these wingnut LDS outfits. The Mormon suckers setting aside their money or time for these groups deserve to be warned. These groups play on Mormon sensibilities but at this point the best thing that could happen for the LDS church would be if they’d just pack up and go away. They’re not helping. They’re the problem, not the solution. They need to be told to go away.
Sorry this went so long. Shorter me: no need to look outside the LDS church to find folks as despicable as the Copelands.
It isn’t really volunteering if you are taught all your life that saying no is not an option, “because you can’t say no to Heavenly Father”. Talk about emotional blackmail.
Chino, you should post this as a separate entry. Fascinating.
May be, you need to call the Temple President and give him a piece of your mind.
Oh, I figured out real quick as a teenager that “no” was always an option.
If I really didn’t want to do something, no one could make me do it. Bishop… dad… didn’t matter.
I guess that might be a difference between my experience and that of others.
I never, not even once, felt powerless or helpless.
Hellmut, OK, will do, once I’ve finished reading the LDS talks from the recent World Congress of Families held in Amsterdam. Talk about brazen … these LDS leaders spend other people’s money to fly all the way to Holland to accomplish what exactly?
A gem from Sheri L. Dew’s talk there: “But since when has the opinion of the masses been a reliable barometer of what is in humanity’s best interests?”
Sheri L. Dew: http://www.worldcongress.org/wcf5.spkrs/wcf5.dew.htm
Russell M. Nelson: http://www.worldcongress.org/wcf5.spkrs/wcf5.nelsonr.htm
Wendy Watson Nelson: http://www.worldcongress.org/wcf5.spkrs
More about the WCF here:
Question for Karen at MGF & UFI: Am I mmisperceiving anything when I conclude that the Mormon leadership, including, apparently, members of the Quorum of the Twelve, is comfortable cavorting with internationally-renowned gay-bashers like Allan Carlson?
I have a hard time imagining the members of the Quorum of the Twelve “cavorting” with anyone – no matter what the occasion.