The Mutt’s Nuts

Where religion is about as attractive as a two week holiday in Afghanistan

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Pat Condell on Geert Wilders’ Fitna & Islam

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Having been a fan of Pat Condell for quite a while now, I have to say that he hits a bullseye with his latest video: Religion of Fear. It’s refreshing to find somebody who’s willing to speak his mind without fear of retribution and, as a matter of fact, echo my own inner thoughts on the matter. I wish that he would run for Parliament ‘cos I would back him all of the way.

On a related note, I find the news story of the Muslim bus driver who insisted that the passengers on his bus get off while he prays completely ridiculous. Religious observance shouldn’t give anybody an automatic right to do as they wish at the inconvenience of others.

Curmudgeonly

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Written by Curmudgeonly

March 31, 2008 at 8:30 pm

Nailing a Filipino at Eastertime

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I don’t understand why some Christians feel the need to take part in Easter crucifixion rituals in the Philippines. Anyone who is unsure of what it is that I’m talking about, then watch this video and witness the macabre activities that a number of, what can only be described as, maniacally devout Catholics are willing to subject themselves to, all in the name of God and religion:

Every Good Friday, in towns across the Philippines, people atone for sins or give thanks for answered prayers by re-enacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in every gory detail, sometimes on makeshift Golgothas. One such person named Mamangon, who continues the practice after inheriting it from his father who had been nailed to the cross fifteen times in his own lifetime, has described what he felt after being crucified:

“I feel so refreshed, like all my sins are washed away”

Unhinged is a word that comes quickly to mind. Mamangon added that he “will continue this until my son Alex is cured.” He almost seems to be saying that his son’s illness has come about as a result of his own sinfulness and that until he has performed this act enough times his son won’t be cured. So, in some roundabout way, he blames himself for his son’s condition. To be emotionally caught up in such a pointless and painful ritual is very sad. Considering that the Saviour has supposedly already paid in full for the sins of the world, I can’t help but think what a misguided waste of time this all is. Do these filipinos not think that his sacrifice was enough?

And surely a person of faith could express any thankfulness that they inevitably feel, because of something they believe God has done, in acts of service – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty, visiting with those who are sick or any other compassionate act. After all, it was Jesus who said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25: 40). The Bible suggests that it’s sufficient to honour Jesus’s commands, as in that way devotees will find themselves on the good side of God.

Because I was once ardently religious, I often find that I can comprehend, to some extent, the religious psyche, but flagellation and literally imitating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, complete with nails, is far, far removed from what I’m able to understand. I truly don’t get it.

Curmudgeonly

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March 23, 2008 at 10:10 am

This tragedy is a miracle

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No doubt you’ve heard or read about the 11-month baby who survived the tornado that occurred in the southern US earlier this week. As usual, God got the credit. The boy’s grandfather declared: “It’s a miracle they ain’t both gone. We’ve had some divine intervention.”

Now, I can well understand the joy and relief Kyson’s family must have felt to discover him alive. It’s wonderful that he survived. But his young mother died. And that’s a tragedy.

If God is to be thanked for protecting the baby, is he not also to be blamed for not protecting the child’s mother? You can’t have it both ways.

While the tornado was carrying Kyson to safety, little children all over the world were dying. On average, 26,000 children under the age of 5 die every day. Where was God when they needed him?

Isla

Written by islaskye

February 9, 2008 at 8:18 am

The Tom Cruise Scientology Video

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I don’t know how long this video will be available, so catch it while you can…

Vodpod videos no longer available. from disembedded.wordpres posted with vodpod

 

 

If you’re wondering what the hecky-thump he’s talking about, then this article might help: Tom Cruise Scientology-Video Glossary: What Is He Talking About?

And make sure you watch “the other video Tom Cruise doesn’t want you to see” at To Try a New Sword on a Chance Wayfarer.

Curmudgeonly Yours

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January 16, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Mormon Church (almost) bows to science

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A recent Associated Press article is among several to report that the latest edition of the Book of Mormon has a new word inserted in its introduction. So what? Why would one little word be considered controversial enough to merit its own news article? Although the introduction is not considered scripture by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the actual Book of Mormon definitely is. Because the introduction describes the Church’s stance towards the book itself, even a subtle change to its content can be an indicator of how the book is viewed by church leaders.

The Book of Mormon was described by the church’s founder Joseph Smith (revered by church members as not just a prophet but the Prophet) as “the most correct of any book on earth and the keystone of our religion” (History of the Church 4:461).

From its publication it has been accepted by Latter-day Saints as an historical record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas from 600 BC to 400 AD. One of its main assertions is that the Israelites are the ancestors of today’s Native Americans. It begins with the story of Lehi, a Jewish man, and his family fleeing Jerusalem at the time of the reign of King Zedekiah and being guided by God to “a land of promise” – the American continent. This family forms the basis of two groups of people, named after Lehi’s sons, and known throughout the book as Nephites and Lamanites. The Lamanites, being disobedient to God, were cursed with a darker skin, to distinguish themselves from their more righteous brethren, the Nephites. These dark-skinned people, the Church has always taught, are the progenitors of today’s Native Americans. The Book of Mormon goes on to record that many of the Lamanites eventually repented and began to lose their dark skin tone. It concludes with a huge battle between the two groups, with the Lamanites emerging victorious and the Nephites being completely destroyed.

As a young woman I served a mission to the native peoples of North America and one of our main – and most successful – missionary tactics was to tell them that the Book of Mormon contained a history of their ancestors. It was something that I had always been taught from my conversion to the church and, as a faithful member and enthusiastic missionary, I was only too happy to impart this good news to the people I believed to be the descendants of the “Lamanites”. I loved the people that I worked among and considered them to be particularly special because of their Book of Mormon ancestry.

A few years ago a controversy arose when scientists discovered that Native American DNA markers suggested that they originated from central Asia, not the Middle East as posited in the Book of Mormon. Although church leaders have never officially acknowledged that genetic evidence contradicts the Book of Mormon’s assertions about the ancestry of today’s Native Americans, some people believe that the small insertion into the book’s introduction indicates a tacit acknowledgement of those DNA findings.

The old introduction, which claimed:

After thousands of years all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians

has been amended thus:

After thousands of years all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians

With the use of the word “among”, church leaders have subtly changed the church’s stance on Native American ancestry. Leaders throughout the history of the church have commonly used the word “Lamanites” to denote American Indians. According to noted Mormon sociologist and historian Armand L. Mauss:

Since the very founding of the church in 1830, Mormons had believed that North American Indians were Lamanites, described by the Book of Mormon as literal Israelites, the seed of Abraham, who would flock to the church as lost sheep responding to the voice of the true Shepherd of Israel and would actually take the initiative in building a New Jerusalem on the American continent. (Armand L. Mauss, All Abraham’s Children: Changing Mormon Conceptions of Race and Lineage, University of Illinois Press, 1993, p. 115)

This was certainly the understanding of church members and leaders when I joined the church in 1974 and remained unchanged during my 27 years as an active member. As an example, here are quotes from Spencer Kimball, the President when I was baptised into the church, and Gordon B Hinckley, the President when I left:

President Spencer W. Kimball:

The term Lamanite includes all Indians and Indian mixtures, such as the Polynesians, the Guatemalans, the Peruvians, as well as the Sioux, the Apache, the Mohawk, the Navajo, and others. It is a large group of great people. (“Of Royal Blood,” Ensign, July 1971, p. 7)

President Gordon B. Hinckley:

President Hinckley next visited Lima, Peru, where he met with missionaries and held two conferences attended by a total of 28,000 Latter-day Saints. …President Hinckley recognized the Book of Mormon heritage of his listeners in Lima: “As I look into your faces, I think of Father Lehi, whose sons and daughters you are. I think he must be shedding tears today, tears of love and gratitude. … This is but the beginning of the work in Peru. This work of the Almighty will go on and grow and grow.” (“God’s Holy Work” in Peru, in “News of the Church,” Ensign, Feb. 1997, 73).

Early revelations, supposedly from God, to Joseph Smith also used the words “Lamanites” and “Indians” interchangeably (see D&C 28:2 and 32:3). In an extract from Joseph Smith’s History, contained in another Book of Mormon scripture called the Pearl of Great Price, the Mormon Prophet speaks of a visit from an angel called Moroni who was one of the last writers in the Book of Mormon. Joseph records his interview with this personage in these words:

He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered the the Saviour to the ancient inhabitants” (Joseph Smith – History of the Church 1:34).

Joseph Smith, the Prophet taught that the Book of Mormon spoke of the “former inhabitants” of the American continent. The Book of Mormon describes the “former inhabitants” as originating in Jerusalem. Some of those “former inhabitants” became known in the book as Lamanites. Joseph Smith and subsequent church leaders referred to modern Native Americans as Lamanites. It is clear that the original teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that the principal ancestors of Native American Indians originated in the Middle East.

Strangely, it is only since DNA evidence was shown to contradict this assertion, that Mormon apologists and, lately, Mormon leaders, have decided that Israelites are only one of a number of potential progenitors for today’s Native Americans. They are back-pedalling on a doctrine that has been universally accepted since the church’s inception. Although the word “among” still allows for the Lamanites to be a part of the Indians’ DNA mix, it has also introduced the idea that they may be comfortably thought of as not necessarily being responsible for the majority of Indians’ genetic make-up.

To me, this smacks of equivocation on behalf of the church and is the kind of thing that drove me away from the religion in the first place. I believed that I was a member of “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1:30), yet little by little, over its history, the church had made changes to original revelations and doctrines that undermined – in my eyes – its claim to be divinely appointed. This latest alteration, subtle as it might be, is yet another example of the church’s concession to prevailing science and culture at the expense of its historical roots. To me this is a cop-out, made all the more duplicitous by its insistence that the church is God-inspired. If God was content for his church to understand for nearly 180 years that the Book of Mormon peoples called Lamanites were the primary ancestors of Native Americans, why would he now approve this shift in thinking which describes them as only one of a group of potential progenitors? It may seem a small thing, and probably wouldn’t bother the majority of Latter-day Saints, but the principle of altering doctrine for the sake of expediency was the main reason for my loss of faith in the Mormon church and the fact that it is still happening only confirms the rightness of my decision to abandon Mormonism all together.

IslaSkye

Written by islaskye

January 13, 2008 at 1:33 pm

Mitt Romney knows better

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There’s a particular Mormon forum that I used to be a regular contributer to, for many, many years. I don’t post there now, as I’ve lost the sense of “belonging” that I had in the days when I was an active participant there. But occasionally, I will silently visit and read the words of those who I once had an affinity for, and this brings me to the reason for this entry.

Earlier today, I read the transcript of Mitt Romney’s speech, the link to which I had come across at the forum that I refer to, and a certain paragraph jumped out to me. Actually, there were more, but I want to say a few things about this one paragraph:

Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.

I read that and immediately thought to myself, “Oh, come on, who are you trying to kid? Whose eyes are you trying to pull the wool over?” Of course, it’s quite obvious that he’s trying to appease certain Christians who find his brand of religiousness troubling. But seriously, as a practicing Mormon, the importance of willingly submitting to the words of church authorities will have been indelibly etched on his psyche, so I don’t believe for one minute that he’s capable of temporarily disentangling himself from a lifetime of Mormon indoctrination at the drop of a hat. If Romney is as devout as he appears, I doubt that he will be able to ignore his deep-rooted prejudices, his innate Mormonism.

So I just want to show how a “good” Mormon, like Romney, views the authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although he says that they will never “exert influence on presidential decisions”, the church authorities, especially the prophet and President of the Church, wield a huge amount of power in the lives of Latter-day Saints. I hope to demonstrate this by referring to an address that’s very well-known in Mormon circles.

In 1980, Ezra Taft Benson, who was at the time a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave a talk called The Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, which has since become a Mormon classic, where he explained that if a person hopes to be crowned with God’s glory in the hereafter then that person must follow the prophet. This “grand key” – as he called it – is chief in importance as it alone unlocks the door to the highest heaven and all the membership of the Church knows this, so there’s no getting around it. This talk encapsulates everything that orthodox Mormons – including Romney, if his profession to be a faithful church member is correct – believe about their prophets. So though Romney claims emphatically that he can ignore his firmly implanted beliefs when making crucial decisions, I very much doubt this, given the paramount significance of the prophet’s utterances in the lives of Latter-day Saints.

Benson says that “the prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything” (fundamental 1, emphasis mine) and follows that up by quoting from Mormon scripture:

Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you. [Doctrine & Covenants 21:4-6]

Did you hear what the Lord said about the words of the prophet? We are to “give heed unto all his words”–as if from the Lord’s “own mouth.”

Suppose the prophet makes an official declaration that runs counter to a presidential policy decision. How would Romney, as a Mormon, respond to this? Am I to seriously believe that he will choose to ignore the Lord’s mouthpiece and, in effect, ignore the Lord himself?

In his talk, Benson addresses this dilemma and answers it (fundamental 7):

The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.

Said President Harold B. Lee:

You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life…. Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow…. Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church. [in Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153)

How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness.

So where’s the wriggle room for a professed faithful Mormon when it comes to choosing between obedience to the Lord’s anointed and political expediency?

In his speech, Romney suggests that its inappropriate for a spiritual leader to become involved in political matters, that their stewardship is solely “within the province of church affairs”. But Benson says (fundamental 5):

The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.

We encourage earthly knowledge in many areas, but remember, if there is ever a conflict between earthly knowledge and the words of the prophet, you stand with the prophet, and you’ll be blessed and time will vindicate you.

And he reinforces this concept later in his talk (fundamental 9):

The prophet can receive revelation on any matter–temporal or spiritual.

Said Brigham Young:

Some of the leading men in Kirtland were much opposed to Joseph the Prophet, meddling with temporal affairs…

In a public meeting of the Saints, I said, “Ye Elders of Israel…. will some of you draw the line of demarcation, between the spiritual and temporal in the Kingdom of God, so that I may understand it?” Not one of them could do it….

I defy any man on earth to point out the path a Prophet of God should walk in, or point out his duty, and just how far he must go, in dictating temporal or spiritual things. Temporal and spiritual things are inseparably connected, and ever will be. [Journal of Discourses, 10:363-364]

The Mormon prophet is able to pontificate on any subject he feels inspired to speak about and it’s the duty of church members to “heed” his words and incorporate them into their everyday life, and even mindset. The prophet’s words will always be preeminent in relation to “earthly knowledge” or the wisdom of men.

When Romney says that the prophet’s authority “ends where the affairs of the nation begin” he’s pitting himself against Brigham Young who stated that no man should “point out the path a Prophet of God…or point out his duty, and just how far he must go, in dictating temporal or spiritual things.” Of course, I don’t believe that Romney thinks he knows better than God’s chosen representative on earth, as that would belie his persona of being a good Mormon, so I can’t help but think that he’s deliberately being disingenuous by making such a statement.

In all, there are 14 fundamentals that Benson talks about – read the talk! – which give a correct impression of what all true blue Mormons believe. I hope the points I’ve brought out give a glimpse into how important the concept of obedience to higher authorities is within Mormondom. And as a former Latter-day Saint who found the prospect of being a latter-day ain’t more attractive, I understand completely the homage that members pay to those powerful men who sit in the highest quorums of the Church. This is why I find Romney’s statements utterly unbelievable.

To think that he would allow a lifetime’s worth of propaganda not to “exert influence” on him is a ludicrous idea, more so as he believes that his indoctrination is a good thing that will eventually lead him through the pearly gates. He would have been taught from a very young age to follow the prophet, and that that is where safety lies. It’s preached week in and week out at church and reinforced in the home. Not only are church authorities always exerting influence over him by virtue of what he’s been taught to accept as true from childhood onwards, Benson’s summary of what Mormons believe regarding their prophet explains what Romney’s attitude would really be if he was faced with a conflict between political necessity and the pronouncement of the man he upholds as God’s mouthpiece on earth.

Curmudgeonly Yours

The blasphemous teddy

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A British schoolteacher has been arrested in Sudan accused of insulting Islam’s Prophet, after she allowed her pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

120px-teddy_bear_01.jpegThis news story just epitomises the danger of religious extremism. A teacher at a school in Khartoum asked a class of 7 year-olds to name a teddy bear as part of their topic work for the national curriculum. They voted for Muhammad as their favourite name, but several parents complained to the Ministry of Education that it was an insult to Islam and she was arrested. Worryingly, the school has had to close until January for fear of reprisals.

The fact that some religious followers are so sensitive that they would take offence at the innocent naming of a toy by a group of children is an example of how absurdly extreme fanatical belief can be.

IslaSkye

Written by islaskye

November 26, 2007 at 10:50 pm