For a Gentile, Scott Carrier knows a lot about Mormons, having lived most of his 50-plus years in Salt Lake City. Carrier’s new book is titled Prisoner of Zion, which interestingly is something he’s perfectly willing (and happy) to be. The place does have a magnetic pull, no question about it.
His book of stories weaves tales of home with tales from Carrier’s adventures in war torn countries on the other side of the world. Both carry weight, but I particularly like his take on Utah and Mormon culture. I also think Carrier’s timing is good, as the closer Mitt Romney gets to the White House, the more people will want to know about the Latter Day Saints.
In “Inside the Momosphere” Carrier describes how when he was eight years old, his LDS friends told him about being baptized in the Mormon temple, and what it meant.
They told me they’d been baptized in the temple and now they were going to a different heaven than I was, unless I converted. They said there are three levels of heaven and they were going to the highest one, the Celestial Kingdom, but the best I could hope for was the second level, the Terrestrial Kingdom, which isn’t a bad place, just not the best place.
To reach the Celestial Kingdom is to become god-like yourself. So, you can see why Mormons have had, and continue to have, an adversarial relationship with people of other faiths. No one wants to be told their version of heaven, which they’re presently making great strides to reach, is second class.
And class is a campaign issue this year. Thanks to the wealth he has amassed, Romney’s life on earth is a bit finer than most Americans will ever know. But it doesn’t stop there, it’s not just about money. Because Romney is by all accounts, “a good Mormon,” he’s also headed for a better afterlife, one where he will achieve godliness, and I have to think that’s a problem, politically speaking.
At the end of the book, in a piece called, “Najibullah in America,” Carrier endeavors to describe the American-centric world view held by many Mormon students in his classes at Utah Valley University in Orem. For these students, there simply is no separation between church and state. No need.
Jesus Christ created the United States of America by raising up our founding fathers and guiding their hand in writing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Once protections for religious freedom were in place, Jesus directed Joseph Smith to found an entirely new religion, restoring the true gospel, and begin building the Kingdom of God on Earth in preparation for His Second Coming.
That’s right, the pilgrims were just laying the groundwork for the intergalactic super show to be orchestrated, like a radio program, from Temple Square. But more importantly, America is for Jesus. Literally. When He comes back, He’s coming back to the America. So, naturally we must protect America at all costs from infidels, and keep funding the military at insane levels, which is a plank in the Romney campaign.
I know a lot of Jack Mormons, people who’ve thrown off the faith. I also know some good Mormons. They’re good people and I don’t want to see the kind of misunderstandings that might occur in this election season around religion. For instance, some conservative Christians, notably Southern Baptists, won’t admit the Mormons into the Christian brotherhood. Yet, Mormons are “busy building the Kingdom of God on Earth in preparation for His Second Coming.”
It may seem unfair to bring a man’s religion in to the campaign, but one’s ideas are often shaped by one’s faith. Therefore, it’s not just fair game, it is an essential part of considering where the person is coming from. Romney was a Mormon missionary in France. He knocked on doors in a Catholic nation that loves wine and sex. He knows what rejection looks like, which is good.
He also believes he’s living a righteous life, but it’s hard to know for sure if he is or isn’t. Just this morning he said he really doesn’t care all that much about the poor. He meant he wants to appeal to the middle class, but it didn’t come out that way. It came out like he’s callous and out of touch. The thing I wonder about is if it’s not all his fault, because a sense of superiority appears to be baked right into his cosmology.
[UPDATE] Reciting verses from The Bible this morning, President Obama responded to Romney’s comments about the poor, without having to call out Romney by name. He’s also clearly saying to Romney’s team and to the nation that he, President Obama, will be the good Christian in this race, thank you very much.