Wednesday, August 29, 2012

White and Delightsome

From time to time, I read the Washington Post which obsesses at length about the presidential election circus. I asked myself ‘what possible concern is it to me whether the democrat with the Medicare overcomes the Mormon with the money?” Yet, the implications of the outcome on November 6th are likely to be far-reaching, in particular in respect of US foreign policy. Voters tend, I think, to cast their vote over no more than two or three major policy issues – for some, women’s issues is at the forefront of their thinking, for others, jobs and the economy, yet others will consider their immediate tax position, and so on. The office the winner will hold is greater than the one holding it so the development of the perception that he must be as far as possible all things to all men is where all the obscenely inflated advertising money goes.
This is a mitt. $30 a pair
Why, I wonder, is Willard Mitt Romney in a position to challenge for the top job? He is spectacularly wealthy, having made his estimated $190-250million in various financial enterprises – it’s hard to see how an up-and-coming accountant with a wife and a mortgage, for example, could possibly challenge since the required resources would not keep him in the running for more than a few minutes. He is, of course, a Mormon. As a people group, particularly in Utah, they do seem to have rather a lot of cash. Why, then, are there so many wealthy Mormons? Perhaps the answer in part lies simply because they got to Utah slightly ahead of the rest of the westward migration, grabbed a lot of land, built property and set up a self-managed infrastructure in these areas. Their wealth has grown over the generations – Mormonism is fiscally conservative - and set families up for prosperity and recognition in their communities. Of itself, this even might not be enough. The religion itself teaches that if you are righteous, you will be wealthy because of God's blessings. H’m. I wonder where I’ve heard that before. Righteousness in Mormonism seems to consist of adherence to a set of tightly prescribed rules for life and conduct - the list for Mormon missionaries - which Romney was for thirty months – is prescriptive to the point of obsession and the consequent mind control its adherents must and do invariably practise has more than a little of the cult about it, down to a remarkably detailed dress code for women and appropriate undergarments. {Ed - he must be bored witless if he has nothing better to do than trawl the Net for this kind of thing. Do get on with it.} By way of light relief, Stephen Fry's encounter with a tourist guide in Salt Lake City is worth two minutes. Creeping back on-topic, the result of all this constipated moral rectitude is that people like Mitt Romney, who have had a lifetime’s practice at rule-keeping, are often accused of being inflexible control freaks. Which is unfortunate since the sea of politics requires a lot more thinking on one’s feet, consultation and compromise. If the strict pyramidal hierarchy of Mormon leadership is his model – no problem if you’re at the top of the pyramid – he’s a stake president (aka high priest, already with the title of ‘President’) then the White House will find itself regimented beyond endurance. Also, the President is what people like Ahmedinajad, Morsi and others see when such people are called upon to practise high level diplomacy. It does seem unfortunate, therefore that Mormonism has at its heart institutionalised racism. No LDS rebuttal to date has been made in response to the following piece of anthropologically fictitious nonsense:
"You may inquire of the intelligent of the world whether they can tell why the aborigines of this country are dark, loathsome, ignorant, and sunken into the depths of degradation ...When the Lord has a people, he makes covenants with them and gives unto them promises: then, if they transgress his law, change his ordinances, and break his covenants he has made with them, he will put a mark upon them, as in the case of the Lamanites and other portions of the house of Israel;  but by-and-by they will become a white (pure) and delightsome people" (Journal of Discourses 7:336).[Brigham Young, 1859].
Where, I ask myself does this leave Barack Obama? He’s black and a Democrat – what could possibly be worse?  It’s been almost a tradition amongst, shall we say, the more colourful elements on the loony fringe of Christianity, to routinely brand the US president, along with the current Pope, as the Antichrist or some other satanically inspired personage. Additionally, many Mormons give more than passing credence to the so-called ‘White Horse Prophecy” which was a statement purportedly made in 1843 by Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS, regarding the future of the Mormons and the USA.  The Latter Day Saints, according to the prophecy, would "go to the Rockies and ... be a great and mighty people", identified figuratively with the White Horse described in Revelation 6:2. This contradicts Irenaeus who suggested that the White Horse was in fact Christ and Billy Graham thought it might be the Antichrist, so there’s something of a polarity of opinion here. The prophecy further predicts that the United States Constitution will one day "hang like a thread" and will be saved "by the efforts of the White Horse. Well, cometh the hour, cometh the man. We'll see, shall we?

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