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Posts Tagged ‘hypocrisy’

As I’ve mentioned, I don’t tend to like talking religious specifics, but that’s only because I tend to view them as rather personal.  It’s absolutely not a matter of not being familiar with them.  Though I will admit I tended to see the specifics differently from how many would say I was supposed to view them.

I was raised in the Mormon tradition by a very traditional Mormon family, and studied some of the religion at the very traditional Brigham Young University.  I grew up reading the Book of Mormon and other Mormon scripture as well as the Bible, every single day.  Read all of them cover-to-cover a few times, and came away with a very loving, giving and forgiving message.

To me, the Word of God was all about treating one another with unconditional love and compassion, answering every need with charity and every hurt with tenderness.  It was not our place to judge what others would choose, merely to offer what we felt was a wise example through our kindness and support of their troubles in life.  We were expected to keep only what we needed for ourselves, sharing the rest so that all may be cared for, in body as well as in spirit.  All were our brothers and sisters, to be sustained through the bonds of community without judgment of who (or what) others would call them.

Yeah, like I said, some would say I wasn’t getting the message.  However, I came across an article the other day that reflected my own thoughts back to me:

Ironically, while Romney would prefer to discuss wealth inequality in “quiet rooms,” the topic consumed both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young’s sermons and writings. For a short time in the Book of Mormon, the Nephites abandoned their love of riches and established “Zion” — a classless utopia that “had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, but they were all made free.”

The Nephite story provided the template for Smith and Young’s social experiments with communalism. They would both try repeatedly to replicate the mythic Zion. Smith repeatedly told his followers, “if you are not equal in earthly things you cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things.” Young also championed wealth redistribution, “We have plenty here. No person is going to starve, or suffer, if there is an equal distribution of the necessaries of life.”

When Mormons Were Socialists: Why the Mormon Church’s Founders Would be Very Disappointed in Mitt Romney by Troy Williams

I remembered seeing a church musical all about a young pioneer woman who resented the communal economy of the early city of Zion, only to become disillusioned with the soulless materialism of the world outside.  She returned to find them throwing out their communal values to chase the American Dream, and imploringly sang to them the same chorus they had sung to her about the shininess of materialistic wants: “It doesn’t matter!  It doesn’t matter!”

I found it pretty goofy and overblown for what I figured was an old message that went without saying.  I was pretty disappointed when I realized that it still needed to be said, and to people who continue to profess more public Mormon piety than I ever felt I should.

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Today I snagged a random mondo (zen story) to share.  I think it’s pretty funny.  I also think it speaks to how self-improvement can be hindered if we try to judge our progress against others, and others’ against ours:

There’s a type of buddhism in Japan called Tendai, where people studied meditation before zen ever reached the country.  Four students of Tendai were very good friends, and they promised each other they’d observe seven days of complete silence together, to help each other reach their goal.
    
A couple days in, they were doing pretty well.  But then when night came, the lights were getting dim while they were trying to meditate, because the lamps needed to be taken care of but their servants didn’t seem to notice.  One of the students got so frustrated that he finally yelled to a servant, “Fix those lamps, I can’t even see!”  Another student gasped, and said “You talked! We promised we wouldn’t talk!”  A third one piped in, “You idiots! You broke our vow of silence!”
    
The fourth student looked at his friends, gravely shaking his head.  Finally, with his chin raised, he proclaimed “I’m the only one who seems to be able to keep a vow around here.”

 Though come to think of it, if that first student hadn’t gotten so frustrated that his anger was more important than his own progress… maybe there’s another lesson in there, too.  I think I understand why people study mondos in practicing zen.

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