Sunday, May 24, 2009

What's wrong with me?

It's been over four months since I wrote a blog post, and it's not for want of material. So much is going on in the world, and so much is weighing me down in my own life, that I could write a heck of a lot about a heck of a lot if I were so inclined. But for some reason I have not desired to write. I suppose a big part of it is that I feel I have no audience for my blog, though this is probably due in large part to the lack of posts. It's a vicious circle!

I could talk about how corrupt/incompetent I suspect Alberta's premier is, or how disappointed I have been by the Obama administration, its DOJ, Joe Biden's pro-Hollywood-MegaCorp opinions and by the disgustingly superficial e-mails I get from "Organizing for America" (which I had hoped would really turn out to be a positive "movement", as they call it, rather than a way to herd sheeple). I could point you to a dozen news items that have caught my eye over the past few months, if I could remember them. But I don't feel like talking about that crap right now. Luckily, for the first time in over four months, there is some crap I am sufficiently motivated to write about.

I saw a movie called The Reader last night, and it left me feeling sad and empty inside. This movie comes in two halves, one a tale of a young man drawn to fornication (with his sexual experience presented in detail), and the other of a tale of a woman whose life was ruined by an awful past--a past the audience is told virtually nothing about. All we know for sure is that she lies to a court and as a result spends over twenty years in prison. It is a tragedy that is unrelentingly realistic--as often happens in life, the protagonist, out of fear, doesn't do the right thing and ultimately the audience is left without any answers, explanations, or closure for what has transpired. It's also a very slow movie, but somehow not boring enough to put me to sleep.

The movie gave me insomnia or contributed thereto; I couldn't sleep, and as is often the case when I can't sleep, I played a video game, which doesn't help me sleep at all. I was slaughtering zombies all night, yet the only real zombie was me.

It seems like I have been tired almost continuously for a month. It got so bad I asked my employer for permission to sleep in, and I saw a doctor, who made me go for a blood test, of which I don't yet have the results. One surely important factor is that for over six months I have had an medical condition (which I don't care to describe publicly) that often deprives me of sleep. My doctor, whose is overly concerned with getting his patients out the door as quickly as possible, decided it should be left basically untreated even though it had been going on for over three months when I first saw him.

Meanwhile, I have stopped going to church, even though I still believe that of all the world's religions, mine is the one most likely to be the truth. I have read and seen media recently that leaves me greatly disliking Atheism, for it is a religion that deceives people into thinking it is not a religion. Yet my mind has been dwelling on the more unsavory aspects of God as we know Him. In particular, the law of Moses and the events of the old testament stand out as something awful. Admittedly, I have not actually read the Old Testament (it's so damn big, and not exactly a page-turner), but I know some of its stories and laws.

I'll give two examples that distress me to no end. In Old Testament times, if you had an affair and it was discovered, your own community would murder you by stoning. Well, let me be bold and just state what's on my mind, because I've been fuming inside: I find this barbaric and evil, yet it seems to be God's own idea--even His commandment. My second example: when the Jews came to the promised land, the land was already inhabited. Therefore, God ordered the extermination of all its people--men, women and children. To me, something like this is even worse than when God killed everyone in the great flood, because this time he had His children do the dirty work rather than bearing it himself. In this instance he actively encouraged His children to develop blood-lust and a belief that violence is God's Way.

People often talk of how wonderful Jesus was and indeed, it seemed in the New Testament as though there were no end to his kindness and tolerance, though perhaps I just haven't noticed the bad parts. Yet in Mormonism, the God of the Old Testament is supposed to have been the very same spirit that inhabited the body of Jesus. How can these be the same beings? And why would he cancel the law of Moses halfway through human history? It does not make any sense to me. Certainly, I would say, good riddance; but changing the law does not excuse the law's original content. I don't worry about those law-of-Moses rules like "don't eat shellfish" or "watch out for the cloven hoof!"--those laws may have made sense at the time on for hygienic reasons. But I believe that a punishment should fit the crime, and death for adultery is overly harsh. Moreover, to have God's tacit approval to kill someone, based on the flawed judgments of man? It is disgusting.

In my view these laws demand explanation and justification. It is not enough to say "that was all in the past, we have new a law now and we can ignore the old law"--no, for it is the same God that made both laws, and God even claims that he never changes. What changed, then? Did man change? I do not think the typical person in 50 BC was so starkly different from the typical person in 50 AD that God should give them different laws or judge them by different standards. It seems to me that there is more variation among human beings in different cultures at any single moment in time, than there was between an average Jew at 50 BC and an average Christian Jew at 50 AD. Why then does God's law depend on the timing of his birth and not on the circumstances of his upbringing? My church has no answer to offer, and I find no comfort in ignorance.

There is also a principle, that God presents repeatedly in the Bible, that I have refused to accept. Basically the principle is the same one that you hear every day from mothers that are in public places with their children. "Don't do that, come here, stay beside me, don't say that, put that away!" The parent gives an order, and the child asks "why?" And usually the mother's response is "because I said so." Or, if the mother prefers to be condescending, "because I'm your mother".

To me anyway, it sounds a lot like God, when he says things like "thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD." But "I'm your mother" and "because I said so" are not reasons at all. These statements mean "I refuse to provide a reason at this time". And I know only a couple of reasons why a parent would refuse to give a reason for a commandment. One is that there simply isn't time (the parent needs obedience immediately); another is that the parent does not know how to explain in such a way that the child will understand. So, as our eternal parent, what are God's reasons for his commandments? Every week I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering "why?"

Why did God change his commandments? Why doesn't God help us reconcile his version of history with science? Why did God forsake every person on Earth in the dark ages? Why did God create sex and sex drive in 12-year-olds and then tell us never to have sex before marriage? And most of all, why won't He tell us why?

Unfortunately, God uses the rationale "because I said so" by default. I am not even certain that God ever provides reasons for his commandments. Reasons are often provided, though typically brief and superficial, but I wonder sometimes whether the reasons actually came from God or if it was merely the writers of scripture writing the reason they assumed would justify the commandment. Bah, never mind, I'm probably just getting cynical from all my heartache over this issue.

God told Adam to kill a lamb every so often and burn it at an altar. As I recall, Adam did this without question, until one day an angel appeared and asked him if he knew the purpose of this action. He replied that he did not, and so the angel explained that it was symbolic of the death of the messiah that would later come. Centuries later, God told Abraham to kill his only son, Isaac, and when Abraham told Isaac of this commandment, he agreed to allow himself to be killed. As Abraham was about to stab his son to death, an angel appeared to stop him: the commandment had been given only to test his obedience.

I feel as though God has made this the measure of a man: his willingness to obey without demanding a reason to. And I think many Christians would agree that this is a fine way for God to choose his leaders and to rule his people. But I am utterly unsatisfied by this approach to governance. It may make sense in a military relationship, where the superior gives orders and the subordinate obeys, but for God's sake, God, we are your children, not your soldiers and not your slaves!

Yet I seem to be the only person around that feels this way. We sing a song: "Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war / with the cross of Jesus, going on before." I don't like this song. I mean, I like the music, but I don't like the attitude. I do not wish to see life or eternity as a war: I prefer peace. I do not wish to be a mere soldier in God's army: I want to be His son. Is the purpose of life to expose us to war? Is this why God will never attempt to justify himself in our eyes--because he is our commander, and we are here to obey, and if we do not wish to obey without reason or question, we can damn well report to the brig and tell it to the court marshall?

My problems in the church started in the groin. I was told that masturbation was wrong, and even as I did it, I believed it was wrong, too. But I couldn't stop; I was too weak. I used to feel so guilty, though now I feel less guilty and more unhappy that I am a weak person. But as time went on it slowly dawned on me that the commandment did not seem to make sense. Incidentally, should any non-Mormons be reading this, it should be noted that the Bible doesn't say anything whatsoever about masturbation; rather this commandment is given by the modern prophets (whose existence might come as a surprise, I know...)

It doesn't make sense because God created it. We are told He created not only the genitals themselves but the associated urges--hormones, and whatever it is in the brain that makes us feel the way we do. You may have heard a rumor that 98 percent of men masturbate--and the other 2 percent are lying. While I have no doubt some people don't do it, I think this little joke just reflects the reality of how difficult it is to remain 100% sex-free. How can God himself create something and then condemn its natural use as a sin? Consider the related doctrine in the Catholic church that one must only have sex with the intention to have a child. Mormons don't go that far, thankfully. But consider the church's justification: they say God only "intended" that the genitals only be used to procreate. It's like if God created the cat, then condemned it for licking itself, saying God only "intended" that the tongue be used to assist in food consumption; ergo, any other use is a fault in the cat's character (and God can disavow all responsibility for the behavior--it must come of the devil!)

I don't think you can blame this one on Satan, and it's a stretch even to blame it on man. How can we be held responsible for the design of our bodies? It isn't fair! It just is not fair!

Yet despite a probable prevalence of masturbation among Mormons, "good" Mormons (i.e. not me) do not need to know why they have been asked not to masturbate (or fornicate, for that matter). They just accept the claim that it's a sin, often feeling a sense of shame instilled at a young age, and somehow, they do not see any contradiction in the fact that God is both encouraging them to have sex (because of His design of body and mind) at the same time as he absolutely prohibits it (but only in word).

I often liken our bodies to the Garden of Eden. In the center of the Garden of Eden, like the center of our bodies, there was forbidden fruit, from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that Adam and Eve were not allowed to eat. Eating of this tree was beneficial in the sense that it bestowed knowledge upon the partakers, yet forbidden because God said so. In the timeless land of Eden, according to Mormonism, nothing noteworthy would ever happen as long as Adam and Eve obeyed this commandment--they could not have children, for they did not know how (for some unspecified reason, their immortal junk didn't work); and they could do no good or evil, for they had no knowledge of either. And so, inevitably, a day came when Satan convinced Eve to partake of the fruit, and God's response was to cast them out and cut them off from his presence. Why? Because they did not obey. And yet this had been his design from the beginning. So far as we know, partaking of the fruit was a sin for only one reason: because God said so. And so it is with masturbation.

Because He said so.

I can't tell you how frustrating this has been for me. "Because I said so"? Why is this reasoning sufficient for everyone else? Am I the only Mormon on the planet who can't stand the fact that God is keeping the reason for such an important commandment secret? By the way, is this commandment even important, or am I "making a mountain out of a molehill"? I know that church leaders take it seriously. I have a Church-published pamphlet here called "Repentance Brings Forgiveness", which lists the unforgivable sins (murder and denial of the Holy Ghost) and says "Next to the unforgivable sins come sexual sins. Some such sins may be committed with oneself and some with another person".

So there you have it. Masturbation is "next to [...] unforgivable". Sounds pretty serious all right. No wonder the Holy Ghost doesn't want to hang around with me.

Why doesn't such an important commandment warrant an explanation from the Lord beyond simply "God intended for this organ to be used during marriage, ergo any other use is a sin?" Why is it wrong of me to demand from the Lord to know why masturbation could be considered worse than lying, stealing, vandalism or violence? Why is it a big secret?

Well, my best friend has arrived home. It's time to set this putrid matter aside and enjoy some light entertainment and a meal. But will this matter keep me awake at night? Will I become depressed with worry for my soul, again, and suffer reduced performance at work as a result, or will I be lucky enough to forget the whole thing until the next Sunday comes along? I am hoping for the latter, but admittedly, not praying.


Melbourne Mark said...

Hi David,
A very lengthy essay. You seem quite troubled in your writing, however I'm reading this in July and you posted your essay in May. I hope you are feeling better by now. My answer is that absolutely nothing is wrong with you! You're human and although I thought that catholics (as I once was) had the monopoly on masturbatory guilt, from your writings it seems that Mormons are right up there with it as well! Just consider it stress relief! I do! Best regards, Mark, Melbourne, Australia

Qwertie said...

Stress relief? As an athiest, that's easy to say. But as an LDS person I can't just ignore our leaders.

Simon said...

Hello David

Have you ever considered the fact that religions tend to be created by men to explain things whilst at the same time ensuring that those who have the knowledge become powerful.

Create enough sins, and priests etc will never go out of business. A lot of the things that we get out of religious teachings do make sense regardless of whether you happen to follow that particular religion or not. Going about murdering people should be on the list of everybody's things of NOT to do today.

I am of the impression that as far as sex is concerned many of these laws were designed to ensure that the TRIBE ( whichever it is ) keeps procreating. This is not going to happen if you have gays and people wanking themselves, or ensuring that they do not get their extra-maritals pregnant. So these things get made sins. If you want to go to the afterlife you have to conform.

I feel that you need to reconcile what you believe your god is prepared to accept in you and what your religion says. After all - everything is down to interpretation which is why we have ended up with so many 'sects' from all the main religions. After all god didn't write the bible - men did.

Come to that across the planet we can't even agree as to whose religion is the correct one.

Everything comes down to faith on the one hand and accepting just who you are on the other.

Telling your child - because I say so - is not the best answer. A proper explanation is. But some youngsters just want to keep asking - why - for the sake of aggravation. They understand perfectly well that you don't run out in front of a lorry because you will get crushed, because it is heavier. One day they may be able to understand that this is all to do with density, velocity and the rest of it.

The reason your church does not wish you to do certain things is to keep you in check. If you are not engaged in procreative sex then there wont be any more little Mormons running about. That won't be good for the figures.

Anyway it is now September so with luck you are more settled in life.

If I notice that you have replied in any substance then I will do my best to reply again.

You are not alone.


Qwertie said...

Simon, the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS does not work that way: its leadership is unpaid, and also fairly unpowerful since the leaders generally don't make new doctrine and just concern themselves with mundane servicework. Besides that, there is ample evidence of the truth of the gospel. It's hard to call it proof, I suppose, but it's more compelling than any alternative.

In my post I do not mean to ask atheists for their opinions--I am asking religious people, especially Mormons. None have answered, but then again, I have almost no readership. How did you come upon this blog?

"everything is down to interpretation"? Not in Mormonism: we have a prophet.

Tribe? Wow you're cynical. No... don't you think it would be more effective to command members of religion X only to have sex with other members of religion X? Yet they leave it at "no wanking" and "no sex before marriage", neither of which do anything to encourage procreation.

Simon said...

So, be honest, for a moment there you thought I wasn't going to reply :-) The car broke down and life has been difficult without it.
It appears that this reply has to be done in a number of goes. So Part I.
Please don't think for a moment that everybody who does not believe in your religion does not per se believe in some god or other. Some religions of course don't just have one god.
And you certainly won't hear me suggest that atheism is not a religion – of course it is.
I may not be part of your target audience, but that isn't going to put me off trying to help.
Faith for me is something that you believe in, despite, their being little to no evidence of the veracity of the subject, which is exactly why to my mind being an atheist means that you have faith.
During my life I have come across people with the rock solid faith that God created everything in the space of 6 days and rested on the 7th. Now there is no evidence to prove that one way or another, but I can live with the idea that this is what somebody else believes.
In return they have very kindly offered to pray for my soul because I believe that Darwin got it right.
So, I am not trying to disparage your religion or criticise your beliefs. I am, trying to make you think about what you believe and why you believe it. As best as I can I am choosing my words carefully to achieve that goal. I use the word 'god' with a minuscule as a generalisation and not as an attack on your God.
I don't think that - tribe - is cynical. Almost every living creature forms a bond with others of its kind. A pride of lions, a shoal of fish and at its basic level I think the word tribe is reasonable. You can have a tribe long before nationhood takes a hold. I would not be surprised to learn that you can still find tribes who have no notion of the fact that in theory they live in a particular country of which they are citizens.
What I am trying to suggest is the fact that each tribe would have had its particular religion. Their way of explaining the world and how it works. If you did not believe the same thing then you had offended the god(s) and you got sacrificed.
How many holy wars are being waged on the planet even as we speak ?

Simon said...

Part II
How did the Pope keep people in line – threat of excommunication. Get yourself excommunicated and you were damned so you repented and came back into the fold.
Does this have anything to do with god, not at all. This is all to do with the rules behind the religion.
Catholics believe that communion wine turns into the blood of Christ as it is taken. All the Protestants I know say this is rubbish – it is symbolic and was never intended to be anything more.
There you have a difference in interpretation and faith out of the same lines in the bible. If you want to be a Catholic however you need to believe that the wine changes.
Now you say that you have a prophet and that there is not a problem with interpretation. There David you are wrong. Right from the word go. Why ? Because the Jewish faith who are the original tribe/people of this God deny that your prophet speaks on behalf of the Messiah.
That is a matter of interpretation. One body of Jews decided that Jesus was the son of God, and the others insisted that he wasn't. Come to that even the Muslims deny that he is the son of God.
We have seen a number of splits amongst the Christian churches over the centuries, and yours is one of those sects that has broken away from traditional thinking. Is this because everybody else has got the Bible wrong ? If so we have a difference of interpretation. If not why are youse not just good Catholics who were the original keepers of the faith ?
Just running through a few articles about your church I can see that it has some large doctrinal differences between it and other Christian churches. I also note that it has split (The LDS movement that is) in its own time as well.
Frankly I would be astounded if your God was actually worried. He that believeth in me; said Christ, well actually he didn't, he would have said something in Aramaic which was later written in Greek then Latin and for my part of the world into an elderly version of English which has since been modernised for people who could not understand it.
Tell me that there is not a lot of room for mistranslation. In English we can't even agree if the original phrase means: Thou shalt not – kill, or murder – and there is a big difference between the two.
However I am wandering – believe – that's the word. Believe in him and if you really do, that becomes believe in Him.
There is no mention here of how you go about it.

Simon said...

Part III
I have the impression from the way you write that you do believe but that you are having questions about how you are going about it. A Baptist friend who is a minister once said to me that he has often gone through a crisis of faith, but that he has never actually stopped believing. A young Russian friend of mine back in the days of the USSR when church going was all but outlawed, said to me that he wasn't certain that he believed in God but that he did trust in God.
Why did the laws change from one Testament to the next ? Why the sudden change from smiting all enemies of the people of Judea to a sudden acceptance of plurality ?
Perhaps because times had changed. The Romans were in charge of everything and would remain so for another few centuries (What have the Romans ever done for us ? Brought peace ? To quote an often used interchange).
The preachings of Jesus are gentler, more inclined to help and accept. It was no longer necessary to stone people to death, we found new ways which were just as nasty.
In the land of the free you can still be poisoned, gassed or electrocuted to death.
Why lapidation – well not wishing to sound flippant but perhaps because there were a lot of stones about. The law required that the condemned was pushed over a cliff and boulders dropped on him by the witnesses to the crime. If the condemned survived that then everybody else set about with whatever was to hand. I would point out that this is Talmudic law written by men and not God.
In any case there are very few instances of legal stoning actually taking place in the Bible. Take a look at any modern riot and what is the first thing that everybody throws at the police – stones – and lets be honest the object of the rioters is to maim or kill their targets.
The original Ten Commandments are still there in their many forms of interpretation and I don't think that the Torah accepts those given by Jesus (Prepared to be corrected on that one).
Here is a proposal. The Ten Commandments are only applicable to Jews according to their traditional thinking. Christianity is born and the New Testament comes into being – but after the actual events of the time.
Allowing for the fact that they have not been smitten by a wrathful Jewish god (Do not have any other gods before me... for I the Lord your God am a jealous God...) the new religion creates its own rules based upon the preachings of Jesus. He in turn has interpreted the previous teachings. After all, Jesus was a Jew trying to convince his fellow brethren of the errors of their ways. He accuses them of misinterpreting the will of God. He was not there to start a new religion.
Does God therefore change his commandments – not really, Jesus does.
Moses came down from the mountain top and announces that these laws have been given to him by God. Thousands of years later Jesus arrives and says: my father is God and you folks have it all wrong.
You either have faith that these events are real and true or you don't. Did Joseph Smith really talk to an angel ? I have no idea, but to be honest, coming from someone whose financial affairs appear highly dubious I am left wondering. Perhaps as one of his followers you believe that he did.

Simon said...

Part IV
Why was it that Brigham Young preached polygamy (so it must have been fine by God) and now that has been dropped by the Mormon Church in favour of the more standard monogamy (did God somewhere along the way change his mind – not at all, the church did).
The doctrine has been changed.
It took until 1978 for your church to allow the ordination of coloured men ? What was wrong with black people before that ? Come to that why has it taken so long for almost all religions to accept that women can also play their part. Though shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife (not a word about husband). But, of course, keep your hands off of his slaves of either sex – so apparently having slaves is fine.
Henry VIII (of England) wanted a divorce, the Pope wouldn't give him one, so Henry says, fine. I am now head of the church here and I have just granted myself a divorce.
I do not think that God actually intervened but we still have a sect of Christianity that looks upon HM The Queen as the head of their church. It would be hard to convince me that my father who is an elder of his church is in fact going to hell because he isn't following proper RC doctrine.
I don't think that you will be going to hell either just because you believe that your President/Prophet is Christ's spokesman on Earth as opposed to his Holiness.
David, if you believe in your God, if you follow a path that you feel is right for you, then you are not straying from what He wants. You might though be straying from what your church wants.

Simon said...

Part V
As for telling the tribe to only have sex within their own ranks. That is exactly what your God says in Exodus 34: 15-16. By mixing with those of other lands the children of Israel will water their bloodline down and their children will be encouraged to adopt other religions (16 And you will take wives from among their daughters for your sons, and their daughters who prostitute themselves to their gods will make your sons also prostitute themselves to their gods.)
You will notice again by the way that they are taking wives for their sons. No mention of what the daughters get up to. As many a female has pointed out all religion has been written by men. I think that we can stress the fact that it is men, not the gods themselves that have done the writing. If the gods were doing it they would have set everything out in stone and then ensured that all humans were literate from birth.
There was little point in giving Moses a set of carved commandments if he couldn't read them. Thankfully Moses had been raised in the court of the Pharaoh and could. I bet the majority of his followers though couldn't.
David, I have no idea if any of this helps you in trying to find yourself, and I have been sitting here in Open Office for about four hours going over what you have said and my reply. It may appear that way, but the task has not been taken on lightly.
If it makes you think about things; to seek out a reply that goes beyond – my church says, then I will be happy enough. You have the advantage here. You won't convince me that you God exists, but I am hoping that I can convince you that he does and that he is far more flexible than you may believe.
How did I come across your blog – easy to answer. I came across your Flickr account some time ago. I was intrigued and all the more so when by chance a packet of cereal in the house had a 3D viewer on the back (Batman or whatever). I have seen lots of stereoscopic photos from the First World War and my parents talk about the old 3D glasses for going to the cinema.
So I clicked on profile and here I am.
I was pleased that you took the time to write back and should you wish to continue arguing the point with me then I'll sort you out with my e-mail. I hope that you do not mind, but I shall wait on a positive reply rather than just proffer it here right now.
All the best

Qwertie said...

Wow, I don't know what to say. Sorry I didn't reply sooner. Some interesting stuff has been going on, like buying a new car, to distract me. I should note that almost anything will distract me from an online conversation... I find them kind of boring. More boring than a video game or an episode of House, anyway. Do understand, it's not your fault, it's mine.

But.... why write such a long reply to one individual you don't know? It's genuinely perplexing. I suppose I should thank you... if only because not thanking you would seem overly ungrateful.

I would like to address a few points. First, I know Joseph Smith had some failed business ventures, but I don't see how that suggests he's a liar. I don't believe Joseph Smith saw an angel just because he said so. The Book of Mormon is the key. If that book is a true historical record, then it is scripture, and it doesn't even matter that much whether Mr. Smith saw an angel (though he probably did, for surely God is to thank for the book, and why would He entrust the book to a liar?) I have never heard a convincing explanation as to why that book is a fabrication, but I have heard hundreds of people testify of its truth, and I have heard about many miracles in the early church as well as some modern miracles that support my religion. I also think I have personally felt the holy ghost, but not often enough to feel confident about it.

I'm not sure we are on the same page when it comes to "interpretation". I think you're making a very general statement that what we believe is a result of how we interpret everything we encounter in life -- whether it be the Bible, or claims people have made about witnessing miracles, or claims about evolution. Sure, I see nothing to disagree with about that. I was making a much narrower statement, that Mormon doctrine is often not an interpretation of the Bible (for there are many things like masturbation that the Bible doesn't cover), but a decree from a prophet. If one believes in the prophet then there is little need for interpretation.

You talked of someone who "wasn't certain that he believed in God but that he did trust in God." My problem is kind of the reverse. I'm confident that there is a creator, I just have trouble trusting Him.

You said: "if you follow a path that you feel is right for you, then you are not straying from what He wants." I wonder why you think this. This is an interpretation about God, and (if I understand what you mean) a very common interpretation nowadays... but not one I commit to. The interpretation could be correct, or not, but I have no way to know one way or the other. But aren't you an athiest ("Darwin got it right")? Why make any assertions about God then, other than possibly Its absence?

Qwertie said...

Part II

The nature of God is important to me because His nature, if I knew it, would guide the path I take in life. I have come to the conclusion that there are three possible natures that the Creator could have. Sometimes when I think about this matter I can develop fairly detailed portraits of the first two in my mind, but today I'll paint them in broad strokes.

First, He could be a very merciful God--someone with senses of justice, ethics and compassion very similar to mine, only more perfect. I need not worry about this type of God because it is my intention to be a good person and, while sometimes I fail, I think I could succeed more often if I had help. Even if I spend my life wanking and disrespecting the Sabbath day, it will be fine because I know what really matters: loving one another, being kind, gentle and charitable, and so forth.

Second is the one I am most worried about--the God of Justice. Basically, the old testament God. His prime concern is obedience. If you can learn to obey perfectly (not in life, but someday), no matter how difficult or seemingly pointless His commandment may be, welcome to heaven! Otherwise, forget about it. This God doesn't have any room for "interpretation". The prophet said not to masturbate, but you did it anyway. And persistently! I imagine this God doesn't like to be pestered by questions about "why". If I refuse to do what he says merely because I have no satisfying reason to do so, I will be cast out at the last day.

Third is the wildcard--the decepticon. Perhaps it's one being, perhaps it's many beings. But all this "God" crap is an utter fabrication. Everything the Bible and BoM says about God is basically a lie. The creator(s) brought miracles to earth, and scriptures, just to toy with us. Perhaps it's a grand science experiment: create humans, then feed them a variety of different religions, then withdraw from them and study the fascinating social structures and conflicts that result as decades and centuries pass. Throw in some UFOs to keep things interesting.

Everyone seems to assume God is good and can never lie. But don't Christians believe that we were created in His image? And here we are on earth telling "little white lies" all the time and playing practical jokes on each other. I cannot rule out that the Creator(s) are liars, and that therefore their goals and dispositions are as unpredictable as our own fate following death.

Anyway, I generally assume the third possibility is wrong, since it is a useless theory: it cannot guide what I do with my life. I therefore worry chiefly about God #2, Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the Righteous. It seems to me that the scriptures cannot help one distinguish between God #1 and God #2, for you can find ample evidence of both. I also worry about why there would be so much ambiguity, for my confusion, it seems to me, is a product of scriptures that can't make up their mind about who God is, and how can this be?

Simon said...

A new car to keep you busy, sounds good. I only get to cut hedges at the moment to keep me occupied as well as writing web pages.

I shall give you a reply as soon as I can make a moment for contemplation. Just been visiting a Trappist Monastery - but to buy beer :-)

If you wish you can contact me on:

All the best

Simon said...

This time it is my turn to apologise for having taken so long to reply. I can't offer a new car as an excuse, merely that time seems to have flown past. I'll try and be more concise for your blog this time.
You talk about the Book of Mormon and say that the arguments against it have failed to convince you that it is a fake. I would have to say that up until now I have not known much about how it came into existence but reading various articles does raise a few questions in my mind.
Why would an angel of God have dictated all this to Smith in Elizabethan English as opposed to something that he could understand ? There again if you can accept the ten commandments as having been engraved by God, why not.
As for interpretation, I think it is a moot point. Smith described a set of papyri as the Book of Abraham. Egyptologists say it is a text on Egyptian funeral arrangements. That is some difference in interpretation.
There are also a number of differences I note between the Book of Mormon and Mormon doctrine. I assume then that it was later decided that the Book of Mormon was wrong on a number of points.
Can I ask you this David: with all the various ideas about how Christianity works and what God really wants from us, why anybody would wish to chose a version where God is in effect a really nasty piece of work hell bent (if you will forgive the expression) on pretty well ensuring that we are only here to serve Him.
I stayed in a Jewish hotel in Krakow a couple of times and was struck by the religious needs of the Jews. Two ovens, food must be prepared in the correct manner etc. The museum opposite helped explain many things, but it still as though their God had gone out of his way to make the Jews' life awfully complicated. I am more than glad that my parents were Christian.
So David, why did/do you chose to follow the Mormon Church as opposed to one of the other Christian sects ? I do realise that you don't believe the rest of Christianity is in the correct boat, but humour me.
I will put this to you. Ancient man was so evil that God wiped humanity off the face of the earth with the exception of Noah and the few. Since then we have seen the ravages of Rome, the crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the religious wars, pogroms, massacres and heaven knows what in the cause of this one true God. In the 20th century we culminated with Hitler, Stalin and Rwanda. None of this appears to have been bad enough for God to decide that the time had come to start again, again.
I find it amazing that biblical man was apparently infinitely more abominable than those that followed on from the good Noah. If Hitler was not struck down for massacring the children of Israel I would have a hard time believing that your persistent wanking would cause Him loss of sleep.
You and I have different beliefs but I think that we are both searching for a meaning to our existence. You believe that it is your duty to serve your God, but are not certain how. As for me, I haven't decided yet whether any of the current versions of god are really necessary. I do believe though that it is my duty to aid my fellow humans and if that means helping you find religion, so be it.
I have always held though that Belief is personal. Your church seems to have a wealth of doctrine telling you exactly what you must and must not do to remain in favour with God. Much of it goes against everything that just about everyone else on the planet believes. That does not necessarily make youse wrong though.
I would think that all young men within your faith face the same problems as you are. Have you not talked to any of your peers or the church elders ?