Saturday, August 30, 2014

Worshiping the Lie: Catholics, Mormons and Muslims

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism.

We all want things to go our own way, and so we fashion our idols to flatter us and to enable us.  This is true even if we are serving what we believe to be not an idol but the true God, for the temptation is always to make of this God something manageable and man-made, something that we can put in a box and manipulate.

And so we see even otherwise good Catholics strain Church teaching past the breaking point in order to justify horrific acts that even those God-awful fornicating tattooed atheists perceive to be horrific, such as Torture.  And then, to no one's surprise, when we find that our enemies are torturing us in the same way that we are torturing them, the foundations of good and bad behavior crumble and we are left with a world where those God-awful fornicating tattooed atheists are right, and our religion (at least in practice) is shown to be a sham.  What good does faith in the God of revelation do us or do anyone if we're willing to rationalize the worst thing one human being can do to another, the destruction of the image of God in man?

Likewise, many Catholics still condone the virtues of Lying, even when Church teaching is abundantly clear in condemning it.

But sometimes it takes a fresh perspective for Catholics to realize we've had our heads up our butts.

In the same way that we can't see the inhumanity of torture until Muslim Radicals torture innocent Americans, so we can't see the pernicious evil of the Lie until we see another religion devote itself to it.

It seems to me that if we were to compare Islam and Mormonism, Mormonism is worse, for Mormonism's foundation is the Lie, and consequently falsehood cannot be avoided, even for those modern day Mormons who practice in good faith, for at the heart of what they believe, and at the origin of what they believe, are a series of lies - self-serving vulgar lies.  There are plenty of examples of that, and this link here, which describes the Mormon tenet of Lying for God, is one of many (Catholic Lying Apologists take note and see where your heresy will ultimately deliver you).

By comparison, when it comes to Islam, there seems to have been (for all his flaws) a genuine religious sentiment behind Mohammed, whereas Joseph Smith was a fraud and a huckster from the get go, a televangelist before TV, a prime candidate for an episode of American Greed had the show been on back then.  There was a desire to serve God in Mohammed; Smith's desires seem far less dignified.

This week on Facebook, a discussion sprang up on the Legion of Christ, an organization within the Catholic Church that is filled with many people of good will, but which was founded by Marciel Maciel, a moral monster, a fraud, a liar and a child molester, a man who goes beyond mere hucksterism and selfishness in his willingness to abuse religion for the darkest of motives.  When one of my friends defended the Legion, which has done some good and contains some good priests and affiliated lay members, I countered ...

The problem with the Legion is foundational. The charism was a fraud. Some good has come from the organization, but it is defective at its roots. And many of its priests and lay followers have done some awful things, not just at random, but inspired by and led by and protected by the organization.
A house built on a cracked foundation, or erected over a growing sink hole, may have some beautiful rooms, but you can't let people live there for long.

This is because the Legion of Christ was built upon a false basis; it was founded upon the Lie.

Of course we're all liars, we're all sinners, we're all potential Joseph Smiths hoping to have as many women as we want sleep with us and worship us (at least I am!) - but most of us are fighting against this tendency in our nature, most of us are ashamed of our own hypocrisy and our own secret devotion to the Lie.

But when we stop fighting our corruption, when we do just the opposite, when we build our lives upon a false foundation, when (even with profoundly religious motives) we reject the reality of the cross and opt instead for the Unreality of a more comfortable fiction, we are setting ourselves up for a great fall.

And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Mat. 7:27)

And many of us will experience that fall because we are serving an idol of our own making.

We are worshiping the lie.


***

ADDENDUM & NOTE TO COMMENTERS: The issue here is the origin of a religion - was it founded upon a genuine (though wrong) religious sentiment / perceived revelation, or was it founded upon an outright lie in order to manipulate others and to seek an entirely selfish gain?

To argue the fruits of any religion or religious movement is to miss the point.  I am no more comparing Muslim atrocities to Mormon atrocities (and there have been Mormon atrocities) than I am examining the good fruits of the Legion of Christ or of Medjugorje in light of the lies and frauds their founders perpetrated.  I am looking at the veracity of the movement's founders and the foundation they built.  Was the foundation based upon either a devotion to truth (though possibly mistaken) or a devotion to what they knew was a lie?  Yes, Christ told us "ye shall know them by their fruits", but good faith followers of bad religions can produce good fruits.  And I'm not talking about the followers, and especially not the followers of good faith.  I am talking about the founders and their intentions.

It's the good faith / bad faith distinction of the founders I'm pursuing here.

It's also rather obvious that we are not fighting Mormon or Legionary terrorists world wide.

So please try to stick to the point - or else the comments will go south very quickly.


4 comments:

bbmoe said...

You're not the first to see similarities between the foundations of Mormonism and Islam. But giving the "at least" to Mohammed seems a bit much. "At least" Joseph Smith didn't personally behead hundreds of people. Perhaps the fact that Mr. Smith didn't expel people from large swaths of their homeland, confiscate their property and force conversions at the point of a sword is just an accident of history or just a matter of scale, but seriously, "true religious feeling"?

Shadowfax said...

There has been talk for years that Maciel modeled Legion methodology on Mormon methodology, which wouldn't exactly surprise me.

http://catholiclight.stblogs.org/index.php/2010/03/maciel-manipula/

Anonymous said...

"Mr. Smith didn't expel people from large swaths of their homeland, confiscate their property and force conversions at the point of a sword"

True, but there were lots of people in Missouri (1830s) and Illinois (early 1840s) who were convinced that he WOULD do at least the first 2 things to "Gentile", i.e., non-Mormon, residents if he got the chance, and so resolved to do it to them first. Google "Missouri Mormon War" and "Nauvoo, Illinois" to find out more.

Elaine

Erik J Pratt said...

I'm not quite sure what the argument is here. If it is that good faith followers of bad faith religions are doomed, I can follow that though I am certainly not a theologian.

That does raise the point of how do we know what a good faith and a bad faith religion are? Is it merely intent (like the cited example of Mohammed), in which case I assume there are eleventy billion religions which are all bad faith to each other. Or, is there some object measure of such a thing?