Pagan Mormonism

February 11, 2008 | 17 comments

Someone pseudonymmed Spengler wrote an anti-Mormon column too trifling to bother with until I was reminded that some people believe anything they read about Mormons.

The pseudonomyous Spengler’s objections to Mormonism are as follows:

1. Mormonism is CRAZY. CRAAAAZY. You believe that the Almighty cares for you enough to make you as He is? CRAAAAZY.

Spengler is on record elsewhere saying that the essence of Christianity is love. If we’re no more crazy than he is charitable, I think we’ll be all right.

2. 116lostpagesbookofAbrahamSpauldingmanuscriptprovenfraudSCIENCEtreasurehuntingmagicSouthParkHAHAkingjamesversion

Spengler didn’t make any effort to look at the Mormon response on any of these or to look at the positive Mormon case. He didn’t even make an effort to be accurate (he says Smith lost 16 pages and stopped translating “the golden tablets”). The only interesting thing about his talking points was that I discovered that Catholics now have their very own anti-Mormon friar. Give the Prods some competition, padre.

3. Joseph Smith “translated” the Book of Mormon by looking at “seerstones” inside a “hat.” Dude.

Christ “healed” a man of blindness by “spitting” in dirt and rubbing mud on his eyes. Dude. Incarnation isn’t something Mormons distinctly teach but sometimes I think we’re the only ones who believe in it. Most of the Christian world seems to have this idea that anything commonplace or prosaic cannot be spiritual. Rock aren’t spiritual enough, and even if they were, a man who was wanting to concentrate on revelation wouldn’t use a hat to block outside distractions because that’s just not aesthetic.

4. Mormons are pagans.

This needs some explanation. This isn’t the normal dumb argument that Mormons are polytheists because we do not believe in just three gods. This is a dumb argument much more complicated than that.

Relying, he says, on a thinker named Rosenzweig, in his various web articles Spengler argues that all mankind is naturally disposed to seek immortality in the immortality of their ethnos, polis, tribe, etc. This, he says, is the essence of paganism. Since the tribe is not actually immortal, real paganism tends to be fatalistic, gloomy, and angry. But with the Jews God acted to create a genuinely immortal people. And then, in Christ, God extended immortality to all, on the condition that they be willing to accept personal immortality alone and abandon their hope for the immortality of their people. Which is all very interesting provided its not pushed too hard.

But what does this have to do with Mormons, you ask? An excellent question. I’m not exactly sure. Spengler tends to assume that any faith he dislikes must be pagan. He repeatedly has claimed that Islam is pagan according to his definition, for instance, and his grounds for doing so are extremely unclear. I’m pretty sure that’s all he’s doing here. As far as his actual arguments go, they appear to be that Mormons are judaizers, believing in the house of Israel and so on. Since he doesn’t think the Jews are pagans, how this makes Mormons pagan is unclear. Mormons are also pagan because, abandoning his own definitions, we worship the Book of Mormon instead of God and because we claim that God has the power and the love to make us as He is, which obviously means that we worship ourselves. It’s mostly rot.

The sociality that exists among us, purified and redeemed, will exist in heaven. This claim isn’t opposition to Christ’s work. It is Christ’s work. His work of love is perfected in binding us to our ancestors, our descendants, and to each other.

Mormonism needs better enemies if its immortality is to be tested.

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17 Responses to Pagan Mormonism

  1. Dave on February 11, 2008 at 4:17 am

    Romney’s candidacy seems to have motivated every hack that ever read half a book on Mormonism to write a column or two to share their observations. It’s been like a journalistic freak show, with the O’Donnell on-camera meltdown as Exhibit A but plenty of others doing the same thing in print. This cat’s out of the bag now and I’m sure religious ridicule will get directed at other denominations and beliefs soon enough when political tactics require it.

  2. Peter LLC on February 11, 2008 at 5:58 am

    Mormonism needs better enemies if its immortality is to be tested.

    True. And I am confident that the Asia Times Online, while perhaps willing, is simply not up to the task of leading the charge.

  3. Adam Greenwood on February 11, 2008 at 10:57 am

    This cat’s out of the bag now and I’m sure religious ridicule will get directed at other denominations and beliefs soon enough when political tactics require it.

    A petty consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, alas.

  4. Peter on February 11, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Maybe the P word (as in \”Pagan\”) is the new C word (as in \”Cult\”). A nice blanket epithet for groups you don’t like.

  5. Left Field on February 11, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    We seem to see the “proven fraud” claim quite a bit lately, I think mostly from people who mindlessly parrot the phrase from someone else who made the claim. I’m skeptical that many of them are really familiar with the alleged proof. They seem only too willing to accept without question whatever assertion appears to provide a foundation for their preconceptions. I doubt any of them have really given thought to the nuances of what might be entailed in “proving” religious claims to be fraudulent, or what other religious beliefs might prove to be “fraudulent” when viewed through the same lens.

    As far as I am aware, South Park is the only source for the claim that Joseph translated from seerstoneS (plural) in a hat. There were two stones in the Urim and Thummim, but all historical sources indicate a single seerstone being used with the hat. If Spenger is using a satirical cartoon as a historical source, that does raise a bit of a red flag.

  6. Bookslinger on February 11, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    There’s no such thing as bad publicity.

    “Every time you kick ‘Mormonism’ you kick it upstairs; you never kick it downstairs. The Lord Almighty so orders it.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, p. 351.)

    Brigham’s next line in the sermon was pretty good too: “And let me tell you that what our Christian friends are now doing for us makes more for the kingdom of heaven than the Elders could in many years preaching.

    See the sermon here: Online Journal of Discourses, JD 7:145

    Also Quoted by Carlos E. Asay, Ensign Nov 1981, in a conference talk “Opposition to the Work of God.”

  7. Bob on February 11, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    I don’t think “victimhood” is going to get the Mormon Church to where it wants to be. We have seen in campaigns going “negative”to fight negative, only lead to defeat. There are thousands out get the Church, there a billions who are not. The focus needs to be on the billions.

  8. Bookslinger on February 11, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Bob, #7. Amen. I still run into plenty of people who’ve never heard of the Book of Mormon, and others who have heard of Mormons, but don’t know anything about the church.

  9. Bookslinger on February 11, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Romney’s run for the presidential nomination bought/brought the church far much more exposure than if the church had directly purchased advertising equal in dollar value to _all_ of his campaign expenses.

    Since Romney spent millions of his own money, I’ve been thinking of making a small condtribution to him as a way to reimburse him or help him out for all the good he has done for the church in terms of PR.

  10. Jonovitch on February 11, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Bookslinger (9), do you think Romney’s “donations” are tithing-deductible? ;)

    I’m still wondering why, in light of the nappy-headed Imus incident, the libelous O’Donnell still has a job at MSNBC, which is owned by GE, which is the major sponsor for the McLaughlin group. The inconsistency is appalling.

    While there is no such thing as bad press, there are plenty of bad bloggers. As Adam noted, this guys not even up to doofus level. He’s only a half-doofus. What happened to all the really good anti-Mormons? * sigh *


  11. Bookslinger on February 11, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    I don’t know if personal contributions to one’s own political campaign are tax-deductible or not.

    But I think that with tithing and other donations to the church and the kingdom, one builds up treasure in heaven. And it may just be that Romney’s (and many other Mormons’) personal contributions to his campaign bring about accruals to that heavenly account.

    There’s a web site, on a CNN domain I think, where you can look up campaign contributions by city, state, and zip code, for each candidate. I looked up local contributors to Romney, and it looked like a stake leadership directory. ;-)

    The Odonnell incident shows that you can’t get fired for insulting Christians, or rich white guys (Romney, that is).

    However, the other side of that coin, is that there is supporting evidence (or “historical claims” at least) for all of Odonnell’s charges. There is counter-evidence, and explanations, and all sorts of apologetic responses to Odonnell, But all Odonnell has to do is say that those things are still “issues”. Sure, they are false charges, and have been refuted, but not everyone accepts the refutations. So there are still many out there who continue to make the same charges.

    Let’s be glad that the most vocal anti’s are doofuses and less. It makes the job of refutation that much easier, or even unnecessary. And remember that the same freedom-of-speech that enables the doofus bloggers is the same freedom-of-speech used to spread our true message. The whole medium of blogs owes itself to the concept of freedom-of-speech, because the traditional print and broadcast media have pooh-poohed us bloggers since day one, denouncing us as a false medium of false journalists and opinion-mongers.

    As we defend our opinions, and our right to express our opinions, we must allow, perhaps even celebrate, the doofuses among us expressing their bone-headed ideas and opinions.

    But of course, the next recursion of the application of freedom-of-speech then allows us the right to express our opinion of their opinion, and express how bone-headed we believe them to be.

    Hence we could say “I will defend, to the death, your right to express your bone-headed opinion!”

  12. Ray on February 11, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    FYI, there is a young lady who walked into one of the branches in our stake a few Sundays ago and asked if we would teach her about our church. She had seen Romney, liked what she saw of and heard from him, heard some of the anti- stuff and recognized the difference – so she wanted to find out which impression was correct.

    It looks like she will be baptized in the near future.

  13. Bob on February 11, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    #9: Don’t worry about Romney or any of the others, when the dust clears, they will all be money ahead.

  14. Bob on February 12, 2008 at 12:15 am

    “On the fields of hesitation, lie bleached the bones of millions, who, on the threshold of victory, sat to rest.. and while resting.. they died.” Romney is gone, he quit, and has gone home. Huckabee continues on like the EverReady Bunnie,beating his drum. When the final bell is heard, we will know which did a better job at putting people into church seats.

  15. Geoff J on February 12, 2008 at 11:40 am

    When the final bell is heard, we will know which did a better job at putting people into church seats.

    Really? How on earth will we know that?

  16. Ken on February 12, 2008 at 1:37 pm


    Eveready has no bunny.

  17. Bob on February 12, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    #15: I guess by the anecdotal evidence such as #12. I do however see Huckabee in front of large Evangelical church groups. If Romney’s run was good PR for the Mormon Church, I would think Huckabee’s run would be good PR for the Evangelical churches.
    #16: Is this Ken from Jeopardy!!!


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