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Mormonism…least “guilt”y?

February 11, 2009

Half Sigma and I got it off to a not-so-good start a while back (which, to be perfectly honest, probably means I should defer and stop fighting against the powers that be — HS’s alexa rank is so much better than mine, it’s not even funny), and so I thought I’d go through a few of his other articles and just check things out.

There were some good ideas there. I promise I want to write about a few articles I agreed with (this this THIS so much), but I dunno. that’ll come later. There were some…interesting ideas. (Protip: Interesting is a code word, by the way.) …maybe it’s just that good ole liberal guilt and that ole liberal religion that blinds me from the truth.

Anyway, but he’s solid, seriously. I think it’s good to see a good secular, conservative libertarian perspective every once in a while (his next comment on my blog — I can just see it now — will be “you got me completely wrong again!” and then I’ll give up  [I WIN: you look at his site title and he proclaims “neither Republican, Democrat, nor Libertarian”. My misinformation is complete!), because seriously, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a college, but there aren’t too many good college libertarians out there. (What the HELL am I talking about? There aren’t too many good college *ANYTHINGS* out here!)

Anyway, I was gravedigging through very old articles of his, and he had one about Guilt, Religion, and Politics.

There’s a connection, and the connection is guilt. It’s guilt which motivates liberals, and it’s also no coincidence that Jews feel the most guilt. To make this post shorter, I recommend reading G. Andrew Duthie’s post on liberal guilt. And then read Jewish Atheist’s post on Jewish guilt.

So, I guess Mormonism couldn’t have any guilt at all. Nope. Not any guilt at all. Certainly not much as Judaism, because Guilt is for liberals. Guilt is also for video games. It is certainly not possible that a conservative religion could use guilt in its tactics, because conservatives are against bioterror!

On the other hand, I still see remarkable similarities between Mormonism and Judaism (although I guess Jewish people wouldn’t necessarily appreciate the connection as much — or how all of these Mormon blogs love to read Chaim Potok and liken them unto themselves). I guess I’m not immune from all the likening (although I’m not going to say that I’m a member of a lost tribe or whatever), but it seems to me that Mormonism, like Judaism, is an immense culture. And it becomes that way because of so much ritual and significance learned, drilled, practiced from early on. Quoting some guy of the internet who’s also a Jewish Atheist (but not the same Jewish Atheist who runs the blog):

I feel a connection to Judaism based on the fact that it’s been practiced by my ancestors for thousands of years, and that it’s currently practiced in the same exact way by millions of people across the globe. I enjoy the cultural aspect a lot more than the actual “belief in God” thing, which I find a lot more difficult and challenging to deal with.

And you know what, exchanging “thousands of years” with “a couple of hundred years,” that exactly matches my thoughts on the issue. In fact, what seems to me to be the similar feature is a very standardized culture — I like that what the church teaches is so well correlated that it is what someone across the world will also be learning. So even a new member, after a certain period of time, will know the same lingo and cultural ticks that I grew up with.

And I recognize too a kinship (however imaginary it is) that we can have things like Cultural Mormons and have things like Secular Jews. The culture is so pervasive that it can be your cultural identity even if you don’t believe. I guess Mormons don’t quite have a race yet, but I dunno…I don’t really see a lot of people ever saying they are “ex-Baptist.” And it’s not just because no one ever leaves or stops believing the Baptist denomination. People just go around from denomination to denomination, but it never really penetrates their being in such a way that even when they leave *doctrinally*, they still hold on *culturally*.

So, I dunno, I’m not saying that it’s just guilt that is shared (although I can find cultural motivators for guilt in the LDS church, and I suppose people qualified to speak about Judaism can give examples there). I think there are many other similarities. The “liberality” doesn’t really explain things much at all — because we can have a religion that is known to be conservative, Republican, whatever, but which also has that guilt to it.

…of course, then at the bottom of that article, there is note that what is being measured as “guilt” might actually be “caring” and then Half Sigma has a response to that…egads.



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