I have recently come to realize a couple of things about LDS Mormonism. The first is that Mormonism makes complete sense once you know that it’s all made up. All the questions that don’t have answers are responded to by the organization in this manner: “Some day—perhaps in the next life—we’ll know the answers.”
And the missing 116 pages of the BoM that Martin Harris lost? Brother Joseph couldn’t re-accomplish the translation because there surely would have been differences between the first and second translations–and then Mrs. Harris would have been proven right about her husband falling for a ruse (Martin Harris was described as being a superstitious and very gullible person) and that Joe Smith, Jr. was a fraud (already a charismatic storyteller from birth, according to his mother, Lucy Mack Smith).
The second is realizing the pure perpetuity of mormonism and recognizing the fact that, as much as I’d like it to cease existing, mormonism will probably exist for-actual-ever, until the end of time. With an initial push from Brother Joseph, the ball was rolling and was set up in such a way that the LDS organization will never die.
My epiphany on this subject came about by asking myself this question: what if the whole sending-mormons-on-missions is a self-sustaining method of keeping mormonism alive through the centuries? The mishies contact people, letting their distinctive and obvious presence be known, thereby biting and leaving an itchy, mosquito-like bite on the world’s butt.
Maybe some people will convert to the religion, but those who don’t are at least aware of the religion’s existence, even if they’re not irritated by the unwelcome intrusion. Those people who are contacted and don’t join are “against the church,” say the leaders, while the people are really just wondering, “WTF? Is this for fucking real??”
This supposed persecution of LDS members helps to form the cohesion for true-believers to huddle ever-closer to each other and whisper-chant that they know what they know to each other, over and over again.
Members feel jumpy and defensive about the situation they’re in because not only are they a part of an organization known for its extremely unusual customs–along with occasionally being mistaken for polygamists–but their leadership keeps their ideals about 30 years out of sync with the rest of surrounding society, so members are constantly kept off-balance (but they’re really, really nice, folks. They’re so nice. So you feel like a mean and awful person to consider telling them to their face, “It’s very weird for a totally normal-looking, nice person, like you, to actually believe these stories.”). Members may hold conflicting latter-day opinions with the leadership, but they still want to “follow the prophet, follow the prophet…” as the song goes.
The members feel the need to shield themselves from attacks they’re told are coming from the outside world from people who don’t understand mormonism—when often, “attacks” (or what I call “observations and conversation”) are coming from former members who are trying to point out all the confusion, contradictions, impossibilities and general wrongness of the organization to members. The members have also been prepped to expect these “attacks” from friends and family who are former members and so they cling ever closer to their “truth” and to the faith of surrounding members.
There will always be a core of true believers who will not entertain the idea that mormonism might be wrong or false. Cognitive dissonance with what they “know” causes them to reject anything that does not dovetail with mormon teachings. Purposely-close-knit mormon communities raise children, who grow up to become fully-mature mormons, go on missions, and upon their return, they marry other mormons, have children, children grow up, they go on missions, then return and marry, ad nauseum.
If a wondering child member (or grown-up member–doesn’t matter) asks questions, they’re considered obnoxious or out-of-line. If they happen upon the LDS apologist sites, they’ll find such fantastic doublespeak, they won’t be able to follow the logic through all of the mental gymnastics (‘cuz there is no logic! It’s all made-up, after all). Some members decide that they must be too stupid/immature to understand it, so they yearn to stay inside the LDS organization, where they “know” it’s safe, and everything is told to you and everyone is always cutting your meat. Those who determine it’s B.S. graduate and become the new agitators to “real” mormons, causing members to turn inward and believe even more fervently.
Joseph Smith, by accident or genius, created a perfect circle of a religion, which will live on in perpetuity.
To expound on this a bit further, there are several things that mormons cannot or will not do and, even though they’re slightly envious of non-mormons for going forth in experiencing everything there is to in this world (one example is watching contemporary television shows about people whose values do not match the values that their leaders preach), they also see themselves as more righteous than those who live without religious restrictions–and that makes them feel good about themselves (and special!) and satisfied within the confines of the LDS organization.
Now that I understand this, it doesn’t make me feel so sorry for my family or feel the need to exert any further effort in trying to convince them to leave mormonism. They’re happy, after all. Or so they say.
Instead, I feel lucky to have mormons in my life. Not everyone has the opportunity to observe these strange and elusive creatures in their man-made, unnatural habitat, but I have.