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Posts Tagged ‘Fundamentalism’

This Was Your Life is a pretty standard Chick tract, but also the most popular worldwide. It’s been translated into over 100 languages, and not just the text–other translations are actually illustrated differently as well, so presumably you can relate no matter your skin color (as long as you’re a dude). A really fun game is to look at the translation page, click a language you don’t know anything about, and then figure out where it’s spoken according to the vaguely racist drawings. Enjoy!

In the comic, there is a guy. This guy dies, goes to the Pearly Gates, and gets to review his entire life. In a shocking twist, he has not lived according to the principles that Jack Chick thinks are laid out in the Bible—complete with out-of-context Bible quotes!—and he gets sent to Hell in the end.

This one might be more poorly written than most; the best panel is when he sees a “hot” woman on the street, and the best he can do is, “ummm hey.” He’s like the awkward gentleman in Wondermark. He goes to church and mocks the pastor to his face, which makes no sense. Why go if you’re only going to mock it? Nobody answer that.

The other best part is the montage of sin, especially this one:

Is a whoremonger the same as a pimp? A fishmonger sells fish. A cheesemonger sells cheese. It only follows that a whoremonger sells whores. This guy, however, seems to just be looking… somewhat lecherous. Probably just barely lecherous enough for a glare; I don’t think that look would warrant even flipping him off.

“But where,” you are asking, “is the redemption part? It’s a Chick Tract. We know there is a redemption part.”

I’m glad you asked. Because in This Was Your Life, the redemption part is fucking revolutionary: they break the fourth wall. Yeah, they went there. There’s a cartoon of you, the reader—by the way, you’re a middle aged man, surprise!—and you repent. You accept Jesus Christ and all that noise, and there’s a “good works” montage to complement the earlier “sin” montage. There’s nothing to do with whores, though Chick would like to remind you that giving to your local church is a VIRTUE, and they’re not even Catholic. On the last page you have a heart attack, I think, mentally yelling, “Take my hand, Jesus, I’m coming home!” in a clear homage to 30 Rock. Apparently the Grim Reaper is also a biblical truth, since he’s in that panel with you.

And then you get into heaven. Good job!

The main thing about this Chick tract is that the main character—the dude at the beginning—is not the one who receives the redemption. Usually that’s the case, because the sinner/Mormon/Catholic/Jew/atheist/woman realizes the error of his or her ways, repents, and is saved. We at least assume that they get into heaven, as the tracts make abundantly clear that heaven is the main point of Christianity. Of course the only way to get into Heaven is to accept Jesus and repent for that time you looked extra evil as a baby:

This Was Your Life is a pretty standard Chick tract: do vague, normal bad stuff and go to hell; do vague, bad stuff and then love Jesus, go to heaven. It’ll be a good measuring stick to measure other insanity against.

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The final installment in a longer-than-I-intended series on Mormon fundamentalism. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 to get some background, otherwise, forge ahead!

True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days

Flock: 300-500

Locale: Manti, Utah

Extracurricular Beliefs: Wow, this is going to be long. First there’s polygamy, Adam-God Doctrine and the Law of Consecration, which are basically standard at this point, but there’s more here. They believe in “multiple mortal probations,” which is like reincarnation, but one keeps one’s gender and personality as one gets closer to godhood. They also believe in “rescuing” women: since women cannot hold the priesthood themselves, their place in heaven depends on the man they’re married to. If a woman is married to a man of low stature within the church, she can be “rescued,” by a man of more church authority. Essentially, more important men can take women away from less important men at will.

Two more. The TLC church believes that if the Temple rite is done correctly, one can “pierce the veil,” and talk to the dead. This is important, because then you can ask whether they would like to be baptised postmortem. It would seem that the dead usually say “Yes.” Finally, the leader, Jim Harmston, prophesied that the end times would come in 1999 and everyone but their church would be swept from the earth.

Mannerisms: Women are usually educated adults when married; they also own the Red Brick Store in Manti, UT.

Trivia: The church pursued adoption by the Sioux Indian tribe, since the tribe is not obligated to the US government. They failed.

Centennial Park

Flock: about 1500

Locale: South of Colorado City, AZ

Extracurricular Beliefs: mainly polygamy. Split from the FLDS church in 1986 when the FLDS went from government by council to government by individual; Centennial Park is still governed by council.

Mannerisms: wear modern dress, don’t marry off teenagers, and though they practice a form of arranged marriage, actually seem like they live in the same world as the rest of the country. They’re the main group raising polygamy “awareness” and trying to make it legal-so, they’re pretty public about it and the normal lives they claim to lead.

Trivia: are trying to piggyback the “polygamy equality” movement on the back of the gay rights movement. I’m not quite sure what I think about that.

Nielsen / Naylor Group

Flock: 200-ish

Locale: Salt Lake valley, UT

Extracurricular Beliefs: Polygamy, and what else I have no idea. Apparently they splintered from Centennial Park in 1990 because of “disagreements.”

Mannerisms: similar to Centennial Park, I think.

Trivia: the internet knows nothing about these people.

The United Latter-day Church of Jesus Christ

Flock: 100-200

Locale: Mostly David County, UT but also some in CA, AZ and WY.

Extracurricular Beliefs: Polygamy; Law of Consecration; Excludes black men from the priesthood. They split from the FLDS group during while Leroy S. Jenkins was prophet. They still accepted that priesthoods conferred by the FLDS were valid until Warren Jeffs took over.

Mannerisms: Men and women usually wear conservative, homemade clothing. Marriages are arranged, and if a man does something “bad” his wives can be taken away and given to someone else. Their webpage says they also turn off the electricity one weekend a month to live more simply and spend quality time together.

Trivia: the original leaders both converted from Anabaptism.

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I’ve been lying awake nights the past two weeks, worrying over the fact that I am leaving all fifteen readers of this blog bereft of information on the recent fundie Mormon polygamy busts in Texas. The problem is, not only have I been crazy busy with the deadly combo of a college class, full time job and writing I’m actually getting paid for, it’s not like I have anything above and beyond a blog like The Plural Life. She’s been living in a hotel in Texas, going to court every day. I only have the internet!

Therefore, I present you with an excellent quick guide to Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints. Keep it in your wallet, and next time your business acquaintance is all, “Well, I have three wives,” you can act like you know what you’re talking about.

Today will be an amusing and diverting explanation of doctrine that differs from regular Mormon doctrine. Tomorrow will be groups. Let the oversimplification begin.

FYI: The proper name for the Mormon Church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The cool kids just call it the LDS church.

The Law of Consecration. This stems from an 1831 revelation that Joseph Smith had; basically, all families deed their property to the church, which then gives the family and any successive families “stewardship” over it, with the understanding that any excess be tithed back to the church. The whole thing is run by the United Order, but fizzled in the main church by about 1877 when Brigham Young died. Don’t call it communism, because this is voluntary. You know, the special kind where there’s not that much of a choice.

The Adam-God Theory. Not for the theologically faint of heart. This idea comes from an 1852 speech made by Brigham Young, who elaborated on it once and refused to talk about it after 1854. It says that Adam was God, possibly a God besides the regular God, and possibly a God who came to earth from a different celestial kingdom. (Basic Mormon doctrine: if you live righteously, you get a celestial kingdom with planets and wives and stuff.) Adam was also the father of Jesus via the Virgin Mary. The mainstream Mormon church rejected this pretty much out of hand.

Plural Marriage. Yeah, you probably already know about the polygamy one, though more correctly it’s polygyny-multiple wives. Many women can be sealed-married for eternity, into the next kingdom-to one man. Joseph Smith started doing it in secret around 1833, and speculation on why ranges from “It was a divine revelation” to “He couldn’t keep it in his pants.” It ended when the Mormon church was at odds with the US government over statehood: polygamy was illegal in territories, and in order for Utah to become a state, the mainstream Mormon church had to renounce it and outlaw it in the state constitution.

Blood Atonement. According to this idea, some sins (namely murder and adultery) are so serious that they cannot be given unless the sinner willingly sheds his or her blood and dies. In the original Mormon doctrine in the 1850s, it was stipulated that the atonement had to be voluntary, therefore no “blood atonement” killings, but it was tricky nonetheless. The mainstream Mormon church used it to justify capital punishment in Utah, but finally did away with it in 1978.

The Exclusion of Black Men from the Priesthood. I feel like this is kind of self-explanatory, but have some history. According to Genesis, after Cain killed Abel God punished him in a lively variety of ways, including putting some sort of mark on him. The early Mormon church claimed that black people had the “mark of Cain” and were therefore excluded from the priesthood, many temple rites, and also “celestial marriage.” It was all repealed in 1978, and the LDS church now loves black people.

Check back tomorrow for part 2: which Mormon splinter groups believe what.

(UPDATE: Part 2 and Part 3 are both live.)

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