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"Mormonizing Of America" By Evangelical Stephen Mansfield


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The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: You’ve written "The Faith of George W. Bush" and "The Faith of Barack Obama." Why did you write "The Mormonizing of America" instead of "The Faith of Mitt Romney"?

A: I thought that the story of Bush at the time was bigger than the story of evangelicals and the religious right at that time. I thought the story of Obama personally was bigger then the story of the religious left that he was sort of the champion of. But in this case I think that the story of the Mormon moment or this Mormon ascent is a bigger story than Mitt Romney. There’s something broader going on, and he’s not so much the champion of the movement, maybe just at the vanguard of it.

Q: How much will a win or a loss by Romney in this year’s election affect the image of Mormons?

A: A loss will not hurt the church because the fact that a group that was a despised cult around 80 years ago is running a serious candidate for president this year is an amazing accomplishment.

And if he wins, I think you’ll have, on the one hand, him as the poster child of Mormon sort of secular success as a product of their values. And, on the other hand, the fact that the LDS will come into even greater prominence means that even more people will begin to examine the life and character of [founder] Joseph Smith, the life and character of Brigham Young, the season of polygamy, Mountain Meadows, all those things that are not very happy to Mormon memory.

Q: You write of the "Mormon machine," traits that help Latter-day Saints have influence. What makes that machine run?

A: The success of Mormonism is it has a very mystical, spiritual vision that has a very earthly practical benefit. That’s why I call it the Mormon machine. I certainly don’t mean anything political. If you are a Mormon, you understand that you are in this world to pass obstacles to "show yourself worthy" and you’re doing that before the Heavenly Father but it comes down to not smoking, not drinking ... having a large family or a number of children.

[etc.]

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/lifestyle/54505875-80/mormon-america-faith-machine.html.csp

There's a little more Q and A. Thought you might be interested.

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Not really impressed

If you are a Mormon, you understand that you are in this world to pass obstacles to "show yourself worthy" and you’re doing that before the Heavenly Father but it comes down to not smoking, not drinking ... having a large family or a number of children.

Totally misses the point of being a Mormon. That's not what the plan of Happiness is at all.

I will say I did think it was interesting that he thought Romney was on the Vanguard and something is happening in America. Im inclined to agree with that

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all those things that are not very happy to Mormon memory

Perhaps we will be blest with more commentaries about the good things as well like the essay written by Kirn ? (Confessions of an ExMormon) that for me at least made me feel grateful that there were not only members like that who shared my faith, but that I could easily have been one of them...wasn't too good at it yet in college as it was just halfway through that I stuck my tongue out at my shyness and told it to take a long walk off a short pier...but it, being naturally shy of course was too timid to do more than very short trips around the block and then back at home to rest before going out to try a longer one. However, by the time I was in my late 20s and early 30s my shyness was managed to take month long vacations and even when it did show up, it had mellowed down more to 'cuteness' (horrors or horrors, I feared anyone would never take me seriously.) Still I had finally learned that lesson I had wanted to learn since I became 7 and that was how to not only feel like I was one of the party, but to even enjoy it. I would have really loved handing out almond butter and homemade jelly on fresh bread to all comers.

If there are all these good people out there who need and love and want to help people and just be there for them without asking much in return...what an untapped resource for a community looking for a way to integrate newcomers, cut down on crime, clean up the streets (literally as a week end project), etc etc. And if this idea did catch on as in "let's go find the latest things in communes--the Single Adult LDS Guest House, these things could spring up all over the world, don't just get taught by Mormon missionaries, go live in a Mormon community. Have to get the right personality type but good things could happen to a lot of good people. And then they could share those experiences with others and some major paradigm shifting would probably occur.

PS: you can tell I wrote the below first and the above last, I hope the above makes sense, it seems to, not like my last attempt to write while under the influence...sleeping pills are hitting much stronger this week and I can't figure out why. Anyway I am sorry if it is too bad but I hate stopping in the middle of a thought even if the thought has morphed into a 6 foot flat head rock python.

The success of Mormonism is it has a very mystical, spiritual vision that has a very earthly practical benefit. That’s why I call it the Mormon machine.
I don't get the use of "machine" to convey the two qualities of mystical, spiritual vision with a side twist of very earthly, practical benefit.

Nothing gives me a sense of machinery or mass producing or automatic conforming production or any other qualities I associate with the term "machine". I am now wondering what he attaches to the term. I am thinking of something much more organic and ethereal at the same time (pardon my spelling, clock struck twelve times and now I'm just a pumpkin finding it very hard to type....)

He needs to work on his metaphors.

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: Why do you consider Mormonism to be like the McDonald’s of American religion?

A: Joseph Smith thought that the overheated revivals, on the one hand, in upstate New York, and the traditional dead church, as he would have called it, both kept spiritual experience from the average guy. And Mormonism essentially turned every man into a priest of God and gave him supernatural power.

McDonald's is not know for its quality, for its creativity, for its individuality...using his metaphor does that make every man a burger flipper and every woman a french fry fryer? and we are all popping out the same spiritual blandness it would seem.
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in a sense literally beat his wife into submission....literally threatens to destroy her if she doesn’t comply is one of the things that makes me see him as false.
Right because God never threatened someone's life nor did he ever destroy someone's life when they didn't obey him.

"in a sense literally beat his wife"....what does that actually mean?

A: My basic approach is to get people to work with Mormons for social good today and to be informed about their history, which in my case leads me not to accept the supernatural side of their history that they claim but still embrace them and have friends among them. That’s what I urge evangelicals to do.
Good Plan, hope it doesn't morph into too many "we wouldn't tell you that you are going to hellfire for not being a Christian if we didn't really love you" sessions. Would be nice if that was completely avoided and they figured out we were Christians and we figured out they weren't anti-mormons, but actual friends.

The candystore must have grown since I was there. Used to have to clean it up after the Varsity, cleaned up real fast in comparison....

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Don't you love comments: .

Possibly the main reason that no one respects Mormons is all the judgementalism, the condemnation of people who are not like them.
And as he continues on, saying it will great love, acceptance and tolerance "Yeah people just don't respect them at all, those judgmental, ostracizing and condemning LDS, thankfully they are not like us at all.

The comment on Ferguson was at least better thought out. Weird start to it:

Please consider this letter confidential--for obvious reasons.
then it goes on and quotes the letter. So much for keep it confidential like it was asked and instead now it is almost 40 years later it is floating around for the entire world to see. Trustworthy friend that one.

After that the comments ran along JS was a con man, child rapist, indulged in welfare fraud (a LDS pointed he was referring to splint off groups but he came back with "Joseph Smith was a splint off group, he was your founder! or some such thing so I think he missed the point). And after masses of masses of academic material all they could say is stop using those FARMS, FAIR apologetic stuff, it's not peerreviewed by unbiased scholars (totally proving they don't have a clue about the review process). The most original comment was pointing to Jeff Lindsey's stuff, claiming he is a chemical engineer (IIRC) and therefore has nothing of value to say about archeology. Text book examples all. Pretty impressive work by dhrogers and another man. May not have impressed any posters but the contrast had to be noticed by someone and wondered about.

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There's a little more Q and A. Thought you might be interested.

If Romney wins...not one member will be added because of it. I fear for all of the things that will happen if he is elected, anti-Mormon will go nuts with 100 fold more sites and lies, leading members now to disbelief.
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If Romney wins...not one member will be added because of it. I fear for all of the things that will happen if he is elected, anti-Mormon will go nuts with 100 fold more sites and lies, leading members now to disbelief.

Even it that did not occur, it is almost inevitable that most Mormons will eventually be disappointed by “the first Mormon president” (whoever he may be), when it turns out that he has feet of clay (as we all do).

My worst fear is that terrorists may try to intimidate ”the first Mormon president” by attacking Mormon targets throughout the world. One obvious soft target -- our missionaries.

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It occurred to me today to wonder, has no-one brought these two things togther here?

  1. Mitt Romney possibly becoming POTUS
  2. The prophecy (if such it be) regarding the Constituion hanging by a thread?

I don't actually know if #2 is considered to be a genuine prophecy of Joseph Smith, or if it is one of those things with no verifiable provenance.

I know that those who don't consider Joseph a prophet would denigrate all of this, but what about others? Sorry about not posting much lately -- I've been busy.

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If Romney wins...not one member will be added because of it. I fear for all of the things that will happen if he is elected, anti-Mormon will go nuts with 100 fold more sites and lies, leading members now to disbelief.

No worries. I don't want him to win for the sake of increasing LDS membership. As for the increased persecution, I am looking forward to it as it will help bring many into greater accord with the Gospel.

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It occurred to me today to wonder, has no-one brought these two things togther here?

1. Mitt Romney possibly becoming POTUS

I did. Here and here.

2. The prophecy (if such it be) regarding the Constituion hanging by a thread?

I don't actually know if #2 is considered to be a genuine prophecy of Joseph Smith, or if it is one of those things with no verifiable provenance.

My understanding is that the White Horse prophecy is not doctrine.

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The white horse prophecy isn't that the Constitution will hang by a thread. The Constitution hanging by a thread prophecy was just incorporated into the White Horse prophecy.

And as far as I know, the prophecy of the Constitution hanging by a thread says absolutely nothing about a Mormon President. In fact, it points to the Elders of Israel. That would imply multiple people in the Church.

As for added persecuion. It's coming whether Romney is elected or not. We are preparing the world for the Second Coming of Christ. You think the adversary is going to take that lying down? We need to stop being afraid of persecution and instead accept it and work despite it.

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If Romney wins...not one member will be added because of it. I fear for all of the things that will happen if he is elected, anti-Mormon will go nuts with 100 fold more sites and lies, leading members now to disbelief.

An increase in the power of the devil on Earth will lead to an increase in the influence of God on the earth as each claims their dominion. I would count it as a win. I'm just not impressed with Romney. Right now we need a Lincoln or a Roosevelt or a Kennedy and I don't think either candidate has that kind of charisma to get a big enough following to effectively lead.

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