Monday, 23 February 2009

Mormon Blogs, Bans and Conversations

While the scandal of some Internet Service Providers' failure to adequately block the downloading of internet child porn goes on other parts of the internet are demonstrating that what is lacking is not the way but the will to do it. One regular Blogger is currently boasting of his site having been blocked by BYU. You can read the story here
Elsewhere, the Mormon Church is taking full advantage of the new technologies and the enthusiasm of its church members. There is a thriving Mormon blogosphere, although nothing found there is official Mormonism - naturally; you can access Mormon produced films on YouTube and some of you may be aware that it is possible to engage a Mormon missionary in conversation live on mormon.org The following is part of the transcript of a conversation someone had recently on the subject of Mormon temple covenants and it is an interesting study in how Mormons view covenants, sacraments, Joseph Smith and grace. Note that, yet again, nothing said is an official statement of the church even though the person taking the call is an official missionary:

You are speaking live with **** who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Information provided in this session is to provide assistance only and is not an official statement of the Church.

Mormon

Hello

Mormon

How are you?

Christian

Hi, thanks I’m fine and you?

Christian

OK I have a question for you

Mormon

OK, what is your question?

Christian

You renew you baptism covenant every Sunday right? So why do you not renew the temple covenant?

Mormon

Which one?

Christian

All of them

Mormon

We do. We renew our temple covenant when we go to the temple

Christian

Well, no you do not go for yourself do you?

Mormon

Nope, but it is still a renewing of the covenants that we make

Christian

How does it work?

Mormon

I can't tell you

Christian

Well I mean you go on behalf of someone else and not for yourself so how do you renew it then? I have been to the temple so you do not have to talk about the covenants but I never understood that you did it in your name

Mormon

We renew our desire to keep the covenants that god has given us

Christian

Ok that’s different

Mormon

We go to make covenants with God, the sacrament we renew every week for the remission of sins

Christian

So there is no renewing of the covenant. But you can renew your desire just by thinking of the temple

Mormon

Well, yes.

Christian

Well you think that the sacrament brings remission of sin?

Mormon

Yes, it does

Mormon

Renewing is to re-establish, so when we go to the temple we are re-establish the promises that we make and that God makes to us

Christian

So it is good to die on a Sunday - shortly after sacrament. Why do you want to re-establish something when you promised once? I mean God knows your heart anyway. Shouldn’t your Yes be Yes and your No be No?

Mormon

Yes

Mormon

Well, sometimes it is difficult to remember and sometimes we mess up, so we go often

Christian

Well, I guess we mess up every day

Mormon

Yes, we do

Christian

When you take the sacrament and afterwards listen to a talk (sermon) and get bored and have bad thoughts about the speaker you messed up already!

Mormon

That is why there is next week

Christian

Why do you promise something you can’t keep anyway?

Mormon

You can keep the big ones, but that doesn't mean you will be perfect

Mormon

You can keep the law of chastity

Mormon

The word of wisdom

Mormon

Tithing

Mormon

Keeping the Sabbath Day holy

Christian

Yes, but when you just look at a woman and feel lust you broke your promise already and when you break one commandment you break them all! (Js.2;10)

Mormon

Well, that is why there is repentance

Christian

Yes, does the church not teach that you have to forsake the sin in order to have a complete repentance?

Mormon

Yes it does

Christian:

So you have to keep all the commandments and when you fail than you have to repent and forsake your sin completely in order to get forgiveness?

Mormon:

Yes

Christian:

Wow! You feel you can do it?

Mormon:

Well, we are all going to continue messing up, so we have to repent every day

Christian:

Yes, I agree

Christian:

But do you feel you can ever repent completely as Mormons understand it?

Mormon:

Yes

Christian:

I’m impressed!

Mormon:

Thanks

Christian:

So, then, one day you will have finished and kept all the commandments?

Mormon:

What do you mean?

Christian:

I mean when you repent completely from your sin one day you are perfect?

Mormon:

If you repent from your sins, yes. When you take the sacrament, it is like being baptized again

Christian:

Ok

Christian:

So do you think that you can get forgiveness even when you not repented completely?

Mormon:

No, you have to repent

Mormon:

Just like you have to repent before baptism

Christian:

So is there a way to gain forgiveness without believing in Joseph Smith

Mormon:

Forgiveness comes through Jesus Christ

Christian:

I agree

Mormon:

But to receive a baptism, you need to believe that the authority was given to Joseph smith

Christian:

So, there is no way for me to get forgiveness from my sins without Joseph Smith?

Mormon:

What Joseph smith is not involved in is your repentance process

Christian:

But without believing in him I can’t receive baptism and so I can’t get forgiveness?

Mormon:

What do you mean by believe in?

Christian:

The most important question than is if J.S. is a true prophet. Well I mean you have to accept him as a prophet so you can be baptised and receive forgiveness

Mormon:

Yes, exactly

Christian:

So than you believe that all Christians who refuse Joseph Smith do not get forgiveness? Well then everyone needs to cross this question about J.S.

Mormon:

Yes, that is why we focus on Authority so much and the Book of Mormon

Christian:

Ok, I understand

Christian:

So you believe the most important question I need to ask now is if J.S. is a true prophet?

Mormon:

No, if the Book of Mormon is true

Christian:

Ok why that?

Mormon:

Because if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet

16 comments:

maybemaybenot said...

Stunning logic. ;)

I've read so many funny exchanges from mormonorg. And even though those exchanges aren't official statements sanctioned by the church, they show two things: (1) how thoroughly uneducated/confused the general Mormon population is and (2) how completely indefensible Mormon claims and doctrine are.

As always, thanks for the post.

Regards,

Jennifer

Scott said...

Wow, Jennifer. Thanks for helping me to know that my peeps and I are thoroughly uneducated/confused and how indefensible our claims and doctrines are.

It's all been said before.

(and to the post author: I'm not sure you read my post--to which you linked--very carefully, because it does not fit in the context of your discussion at all. Nevertheless, thanks for the free advertising!)

Mike's 4 Tea said...

Jeniffer

A friend of mine had this conversation and it seemed a good opportunity to demonstrate to people the strange logic that is followed sometimes. Mormonism certainly is not a reflective religion. If sacrament operated as this missionary describes it then he should, like a good Catholic, take it every day, and go to confession and all those other sacraments we often forget about.

Scott

I just enoyed your glee at being banned. I know the link is tenuous but it is there. I was trying to link items about technology not commentary. It is interesting the way the Mormon Church, traditionally so controlling, has to really work hard to keep up with the new freedoms Mormons have in this borderless world of the the world wide web.

Scott said...

Mike--

It's funny how the LDS Church is always viewed from the outside as being "traditionally so controlling" while members of the church don't typically feel that way at all. Of course, this could be because we've all been deceived and are otherwise generally uneducated/confused.

In any case, I do thank you for the advert.

Seth R. said...

Not much different in depth or quality from the commentary I get from most other Christians.

Some of the commenters here are acting like the LDS Church put a patent on ignorance.

Mike's 4 Tea said...

Scott

Is it really so peculiar that an organisation is viewed differently from the inside than from the outside? I would have thought that was normal. The question is are those with different views prepared to consider the alternative perspectives of others. Reading Seth's urbane comment one might be forgiven for thinking that at least one Mormon is seriuosly averse to any alternative view.

I am in the happy position of having held both persectives in my time and can say that Mormonism is traditionally a controlling religion to the point of excommunicating the most honest of dissenters over the most innocuous of issues.

That said, this phenomenon is not peculiar to the Mormon Church. I have known Christian churches that have proved uncomfortably controlling. However, it is marked in Mormon history but to see it one has to see outside one's immediate and perhaps currently happy experience and consider the experiences of others. A Mormon will frequently hold the view that nothing is wrong until he or she falls foul of the Mormon hierarchy.

Seth

Oh, I just wonder - yawn - how you find the time - yawn - or patience to - yawn - condescend to mix with us apostates - yawn. I mean for someone with your - yawn - incisive and - yawn - devastating apologetic skills - yawn - we must all seem so very - yawn - slow to you. That must be the reason why you, having promised to give an exhaustive rebuttal to my comments about polygamy, walked away and left me in my ignorance. Gosh it must be hard waiting for the rest of us to catch up.

Seth R. said...

That comment wasn't directed at you Mike. I didn't critique the original post. It was more a call for people to be a little more charitable, and realize this sort of stuff happens everywhere and in every organization.

As for the polygamy rebuttal. I've honestly forgotten completely what you're talking about. It's quite possible that I did say something like that and then just absent-mindedly forgot about it.

It's also disappointing to see you taking this attitude. You didn't talk to me like this earlier. But I guess after Jennifer's earlier comments, you've decided to pigeonhole me in a category, and dismiss everything I say as "condescending."

maybemaybenot said...

Hahahaha! Love the last comment, Mike.

Scott, let me clarify - when I say uneducated, I mean uneducated about church history and doctrine, I wasn't stating that Mormons are a bunch of backward hillbillies. I should have been more careful to clarify.

However.

Every single time the missionaries come to my door, every single time the home teachers come to my door (don't even get me started on the visiting teachers) and every single time I have met with the bishops and stake presidents, there comes a point in the conversations (particularly early in the conversations with the missionaries) where the responses become inconsistent, incoherent and silly even at times.

I have posed very genuine and sincere questions, though admittedly tough, particularly early on in my spiritual demise, as I call it, and they have yet to be satisfactorily addressed. And at the end of those conversations I get the same ole "just know that the Lord will answer your prayers in time". That was 9+ years ago. Still waiting.

My point is, when you get past the easy stuff, creation, Christ's birth, death, resurrection, etc. and get into the heavy stuff, the vast majority of Mormons have no clue. Period. I was a devout Mormon for many years. And I was clueless. Happily clueless, admittedly, but clueless, nonetheless.

Cheers,

Jennifer

maybemaybenot said...

Seth,

I beg to differ. The debate between you and Mike was, at times, extremely heated long before (6 months to be exact) I came along. I hardly think it is fair to blame me for Mike's expression of his views and perceptions. Actually, that is rather insulting to Mike. I think he is quite grown-up and wise enough to formulate his own opinions.

You wouldn't be being honest if you stated that I am the first person to come to those same conclusions about how you come across in your comments. I'm not sure you are completely aware of the arrogant air you put off.

Mike's 4 Tea said...

Jeniffer

You awful person, having a bad influence on me like that. I shall have to avoid you otherwise the next thing you know I will be drinking coffee, going to pubs and reading the Sunday papers - hang on - I did those things before you came along too. And there I was thinking you were dragging me down to the pit of sin and sarcasm.

maybemaybenot said...

Pssst...

*whispering* I even watch rated R movies.

Guess I better start looking forward to forever in the telestial kingdom. Or do I actually qualify for Outer Darkness at this point? I can't remember. Damn.

Well, if I can't live with my family forever can I at least bring my dog along?

Oops, there's that sarcasm thing again.

Seth R. said...

No I don't think the conversation had degenerated to mere sneering until it was concluded that I was now to be dubbed an "internet bully" and that nothing I said was worthy of a real response.

I'm still waiting for an actual response. But if you're not going to answer it just say so.

Mike's 4 Tea said...

Jennifer

You will be fine in outer darkness with the rest of us apostates so long as your dog's name is Cerberus.

Seth

Who called you an "internet bully"? I take it from the quotation marks that you are quoting directly? What exactly are you awaiting an answer to? Your recent posts have been rather dismissive, more or less saying "the same old stuff - yawn". I also think it rich that you complain about waiting for an answer when you have kept me waiting for your response to my posts on polygamy. I notice that when you have nothing to say you dismiss our posts as repetetive and familiar and walk away.

Let's not get too worked up about it though. I mean, if we can't have a chuckle now and again it is a very sad world.

How many Mormons does it take to change a light bulb?

Seth R. said...

Don't worry about it. I had a good night's sleep and I'm a lot less irritable at the moment. I'm willing to drop it.

When and where was the polygamy thing again? I've completely forgotten about it.

maybemaybenot said...

Guilty as charged, Mike. I believe I did liken Seth to a bully at one point, though I find that rather mild. I've certainly been called a lot worse!

Seth, you sound like such a martyr in your last comment. It seems odd that you would really care about the opinions of a couple of apostates.

Lightbulb - not sure but it probably has to be a lot of folks because I am certain there has to be a planning committee, someone to say opening prayer, someone to say closing prayer and someone to bring snacks.

Mike's 4 Tea said...

Seth

Don't go to any trouble if the moment has passed but if you want to pursue it you will find the conversation on 1 August 2008 under the heading Mormon Christians, What's in a Name?

Lightbulb - Change doesn't work, Reformation has been shown to fail. The lightbulb must be RESTORED.

Jennifer

Good of you to put your hand up. I hope you raised it to the square.