Preconceived Notions

Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter...

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In The Philosophy of Freedom, Rudolf Steiner talked about how your own thoughts can be the object of your thinking. In other words, you consciously observe your own thoughts. Buddhist practitioners will recognize this, of course.

The other morning as I was putting away some groceries, I was thinking about something or other, and then I started thinking about Mormons. I noticed this thought all of a sudden:

Mormonism is weird!

Now, we live in a community with lots of Mormons, being only a few hours’ drive from Salt Lake City. And I recently reread The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald, which is set in early twentieth-century Utah. Plus, in our hotel room in Salt Lake City last month, I found the Book of Mormon in the dresser drawer right next to the Gideon Bible, and started to read it (and took it home). So it’s sort of been on my mind in general lately, as a distinctive feature of our new home.

Anyway, I suddenly became aware that this idea of the weirdness of Mormonism had crossed my mind, and I realized that this thought was quite comfortable in there. It had been there before, found its favorite comfy chair, and was a familiar denizen of my thought life.

This struck me as quite ludicrous, the minute my consciousness perceived it. What’s so weird about Mormonism?

Joseph Smith was visited repeatedly over several years by the angel Moroni. Mary was visited by Gabriel, as was Mohammad. Many ordinary people have reported seeing angels, as well.

Mormons keep lots of food in storage. Well, lots of people do that, either because they live remotely, live where the weather is bad, or just want to be prepared.

Mormons don’t drink alcohol or coffee, and don’t smoke. Sounds like lots of people I know.

Mormons believe that the New Jerusalem will be founded in America. Well, that is a little unusual.

Mormons wear sacred temple garments. Muslim women wear veils; Orthodox Jewish men wear tallit.

Well.

I could go on, but I don’t mean to write a Mormon apologia. I thought it was interesting that this thought had sprung up so suddenly, and so fully formed, without much basis in fact. Maybe it’s because many practices and ceremonies are considered too sacred to describe to non-Mormons, so there is an element of mystery. Maybe it’s because it is a church with a fairly complex history and doctrine despite being a relatively small population.

I suppose if I studied up on Seventh-Day Adventists, or Christian Scientists, or Jainists or Sikhs for that matter, I’d find lots to marvel at as well.

Maybe that’s my point. All religions or belief systems are weird in some ways. Jews and Muslims won’t eat pork. Catholics believe Mary was bodily assumed into heaven. Hindu gods can have four arms, or an elephant’s head. And anthroposophy has its elemental beings and astral bodies and reincarnation, after all.

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4 Comments

Filed under Anthroposophy, Deep Thoughts, Religion

4 responses to “Preconceived Notions

  1. “All religions or belief systems are weird in some ways.” Oh, I’m so with you there 🙂

  2. True…I don’t think any one belief system is perfect. I like to remember the advice of a friend who said “eat the fish, and leave the bones”.

  3. I was thinking about this today, not in relation to Mormons, but just in general. Religious intolerance baffles me, because all religions are so totally insane. There’s something profoundly nuts about each one of them, just as there’s something profoundly profound.

    If we could realize that we all have a common denominator of weirdness, we’d be a lot better off. Well, except for me … I identify as agnostic. But I think that just in and of myself, I am quite weird enough to make up for not having a weird religion, so I still fit in.

  4. Alida

    How funny, Sergio and I were talking about this today. It started as we searched for a new oven and noticed a feature called “Sabbath Mode.” When we asked the saleslady, she explained that in order to keep the Sabbath holy, Jews don’t cook, the oven automatically locks for date programmed. I was all over that and asked if washing machines came with a Sabbath Mode also, but no such luck there.

    I started to tell Sergio about a Mormon friend I had who kids I babysat for sometimes. She called once on Sunday and I went to watch the kids. She was going to a baby shower, but had to stop by the mall to pick up a gift. “If anyone calls, don’t tell them I’m at the mall.” Me, not be able to leave things alone asked, “Why?” “Well, because it’s Sunday and I’m not supposed to be at the mall!” She said this like I was a bit of a moron so I inquired no further. I remember thinking, “Mormons are so weird!” You are right though, no stranger than any other religion really.

    I once saw a side by side comparison of Scientology and Christianity…really one was no stranger than the other…well expect for the alien thing, I still think that was kinda weird:)

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