Yes: Mormons ARE Cool
13 December 2007 (updated 11 March 2011)
- “The temples are totally great looking.” Yes. They are beautiful. The LDS Church publishes a site with pictures of and information about all its temples.
- “Harold Bloom digs the Mormons.” True. In fact, Harold Bloom wrote a great article about Joseph Smith in the same issue of Sunstone magazine that featured the article about Mormon Transhumanism.
- “Joseph Smith was into esoterica.” Indeed, he was. You can learn more about this in Michael Quinn’s book, “Early Mormonism and the Magic World View”.
- “Ex Mormons are fun.” Yeah. I have friends that are former Mormons. They’re fun … to harass. ;-) If you’re interested in interacting with former Mormons, check out the PostMormon site.
- “Mormons do not hate polyamory.” This is an over-generalization, but there is some truth to it. While some Mormons actually DO hate plural marriage, others either are indifferent regarding it or actually anticipate its mainstream recurrence in the future. Personally, I think historic implementations of plural marriage were often oppressive to women, but do not think egalitarian implementations among consenting and committed adults should be illegal. Note, of course, that the LDS Church has not practiced plural marriage since a century ago, and actually excommunicates any members that engage in it.
- “Baptizing the dead is absolutely astonishing.” I think “inspiring” would be a better word. In any case, we do perform ordinances (not exclusive to baptisms) for dead persons. Of course, they are done by proxy, there are no dead bodies involved, and no dimly-lit rooms or haunted chanting. Among the reasons I find this practice inspiring is that it changes the living in uniquely beneficial ways. We become accustomed to the idea that there should be no end to the work of reconciliation between us and persons of other faiths; it should not be bounded by death or anything else. We are also trained to concern ourselves with our ancestors, from whose lives we may learn valuable lessons, and who (as my faith goes) we may someday bring back to life by leveraging all our fancy neohuman technology.
- “Mormons love genealogical data.” Yes. We do. This is related to the previous point. You can find out more about this work at the FamilySearch web site, published by the LDS Church. If you’re interested in learning what your DNA can tell you about your own genealogy, check out the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, which was instituted by and named after James Sorenson – yep, he’s a Mormon.
- “There is no Mormon hell.” Well, we do refer to “hell”, but generally think of it as a state of being, rather than a particular place. We also sometimes talk about a place called “outer darkness”, but nobody is sent there; rather, it may be understood as something like a state of annihilation for those who desire (despite our efforts) not to live, physically or spiritually. Everyone else lives in worlds of varying glory, enjoying “that which they are willing to receive”, as Joseph Smith put it.
- “Mormons are Christian materialists.” Right. And this means that we do not believe in immaterial spirits or immaterial gods. So far as we’re concerned, God has a physical body, and all spirit is matter. This situates Mormon cosmology well within the bounds of scientific investigation. Do we propose evidence for physical gods and spirits? Well, that depends on the Mormon you talk to, and the definitions of “spirit” and “god” that you are willing to entertain. Personally, I think of spirits as patterns in energy, which emerge into and recede from our mortal bodies, and I think of God much like a secular Transhumanist might think of a neohuman world simulator.
- “Mormons are very SciFi.” Yeah! Check out at Adherents.com the number of Mormon science fiction authors compared to the number of authors of other faiths – and remember that there are far fewer of us.
- “Mormons invented Battlestar Galactica.” Yep. See the previous point.
To conclude, I agree, of course, that Mormons are cool. But I would add at least one more reason: Some of us are Transhumanists! That’s worth noting.