Visceral, Mundane, Delightful
Do you wonder which eccentricities
may reverberate through echoing canyons
if you dare to shout?
Do you see the ethereal sadness
in the wisps and strands
of the homeless woman’s hair?
Do you smile through your tears
while you attempt to unearth
all the earthly mysteries?
Be visceral, remember
the joy at four and distress at fourteen
of the dirt underneath your fingernails.
Be mundane, revel
in the ennui, the boredom, your loneliness
that connects you to every other lonely being.
Be delightful, recall
the visceral, mundane moments
of life on earth.
“with liberty and justice for all.”—Pledge of Alligence.
“a kinder, gentler world.”—George H W Bush
I was raised in an LDS family, accepting all of the beliefs and practices of the Mormon faith. My first marriage was an LDS Temple ritual. For the first 25 years of my life I believed in a personal God, eternal life with rewards and punishments in the afterlife based on my behavior during this life. I believed that a personal God recognized each individual; protected and rewarded that person for believing that the LDS religion was God’s true religion and there are special rewards for being a member.
During World War Two I began to seriously question that belief. I wondered why, if it was true then why is an LDS person from the United States required to kill an LDS brother from Germany or Japan? Both believed that the LDS religion was revealed to Joseph Smith, restored to earth through him as Gods only true religion. My deep questioning of this dichotomy eventually led to my rejection, not only of the LDS religion, but of all beliefs associated with the idea of a supernatural deity and eternal life.
That turning point eventually resulted in my discovery of the Unitarian Religion and the Humanist Philosophy which exposed me to a different concept of religion. Both urge people to live moral, ethical lives for the sole purpose of improving conditions in this life, bringing peace and good will to the world now, not rewards and punishment after death.
That turning point was the conclusion that this life is not a preparation for a meaningful eternal existence after death but a meaningful, fulfilling existence during this life.
The new book, An Imperfect Book: What the Book of Mormon Tells us About Itself, written by Earl Wunderli, chapter member and friend, was published by Signature Books this past summer. Earl tells me that he started working on this volume in 1962. It is a scholarly examination of a book that is held sacred by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints and other offshoot religious sects. The story goes that an angel of God gave the young Joseph Smith a book written on golden plates which he translated to scribes. This became the Book of Mormon. It purports to chronicle ancient history in the American continents in general and two civilizations in particular. The first being the Jaredites who came to the Western Hemisphere as a result of the scattering describe in the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, and later a migration from Jerusalem 600 before Christ by Lehi and his family which split into two competing components known as the Nephites and Lamanites. The former group is generally the protagonists and the later the antagonists. Indeed the Lamanites were cursed with dark skin by God for their sins. While both the Jaredites and Nephites managed to kill themselves off, the decedents of the Lamanites were said to be the ancestors or current Native Americans.
Earl’s book examines all kinds of lexicographic features of the Book of Mormon. It analyzes how many times individual words are used, analysis of “reuse” of many King James Version of the Bible phrases, so called remnants of the Hebrew language, etc. Anachronisms abound from the Nephites’ knowledge of the Old Testament which was not complied until long after Lehi left Jerusalem. Prophesies are remarkably accurate up to about 1830, including the rise of our country, and even the birth of Joseph Smith himself.
Many arguments of Book of Mormon apologists are examined and analyzed. In the end the logical conclusion is no surprise to me: the Book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith. I was also reminded that the Catholic Church is referred to as a/the perverting whore and the racist notion that dark skin is a curse from God. The concept that surprised me is Earl’s conclusion also noted that “Ironically, Mormonism in its present form, organizationally and doctrinally, is essentially divorced from the theology and perspective of the Book of Mormon.” The dogma that is practiced is from the Doctrine and Covenants and other official texts.
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To say that people are contentious, as I have heard human beings described, is quite an understatement. The amount of resources both natural and human that are wasted by our being “contentious,” is staggering to say the least. But of course this statement begs the response, “So what else is new.” Yet I still wonder some times what humanity might look like if we were even half as warlike as we are. For me, I think of a species that could be busy exploring our Solar System and putting greater emphasis on the arts and medicine.
But lately, all the strife around the world and the “contentious” nature of our politics here in the U.S. has me dwelling on human pugnaciousness. No doubt I could drone on and on about the continuous nature of war or about the recent government shutdown, but there is a song with a message that I think sums things up quite well. The song is by a rock group named Rush and is titled Territories. It is one of my favorite tunes. For a song with a message, I feel there are none better. If you feel inclined, I suggest that you go to YouTube and type in Rush Territories and listen and follow along. It’s a great song, if you like Rock and Roll music.
I see the Middle Kingdom
Between Heaven and Earth
Like the Chinese call
The country of their birth
We all figure that our homes
Our homes are set above
Other people than the ones
The ones we know and love
In every place with a name
They play the same territorial game
Hiding behind the lines
Sending up warning signs
The whole wide world
An endless universe
Yet we keep looking through
The eyeglass in reverse
Don’t feed the people
But we feed the machines
Can’t really feel
What international means
In different circles
WE keep holding our ground
In different circles
We keep spinning round and round
We see so many tribes
Overrun and undermined
While their invaders dream
Of lands they left behind
Better people-better food-and better beer
Why move around the world
When Eden was so near?
The bosses get talking so tough
And if that wasn’t evil enough
We get the drunken and the passionate pride
Of the citizens along for the ride
They shoot without shame
In the name of a piece of dirt
For the change of accent
Or the colour of your shirt
Better the pride that resides
In a citizen of the world
Than the pride that divides
When a colourful rag is unfurled