Friday, September 21, 2012

Technology, pathology, theology

My ISP required me to switch over to a new technology* and so yesterday I was without Web access til it was done. So I watched a few hours of regular TV. Like a madhouse on screen. (And I speak here as a lifelong TV junkie, only relieved of the medium last year by the economy; well, my economy, anyway.) I don't know what's worse, the commercials or the programs. Almost totally unwatchable. Like a civilizational nervous breakdown.

*In the TooGoodToBeTrue Dept, my download speed has now more than doubled and my monthly rate has been cut almost in half...What am I missing?


One of the overlooked symptoms of depression is irritability. I am certainly depressed and have been for quite a while, with nothing on the horizon likely to shift that fundamental mood. Only a bit of anhedonia but a lot of irritability. A lot. (Really? But your blog is such a festival of affirmation; hard to believe...)


I have a Mormon friend and we had a recent brief exchange about Joseph Smith's King Follet Discourse. Here in print and here in audio re-enactment. A truly extraordinary and original piece of religious imagination. He outlines the back-story which makes it impossible to see Mormonism --like the Gnosticism it strangely resembles-- as a Christian religion. Smith's central theme that day, at a funeral, was the origin of God and the future of believers. The doctrine was reduced to a powerful couplet by a later LDS prophet, Lorenzo Snow:

What man is, God once was.
What God is, man may become.

Although this sermon never made it into the official Mormon scriptures, it reveals the driving theme in that faith, that the "Heavenly Father" Mormons worship was once a man, now arrived at deity, and that this is the future of faithful Latter Day Saints. This is what they now call "exaltation" or "eternal progression."

Apostolic Christianity (Latin and Greek/Oriental) holds a doctrine of deification through grace. It is central Patristic doctrine that "God became man in order that man might become God."

The Greeks emphasize this teaching, the Latins do not emphasize it in practice, but certainly do not deny it (Catechism, Section 460) . At every Roman Mass, at the pouring of water into the chalice, the priest says: By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share our humanity.

Contemporary Mormons do not deny Smith's teaching here, but are wary of it. It is the justification for plural marriage. Part, I imagine, of their mainstreaming and re-branding strategy. But as in so many things Mormons and Christians use the same words to indicate very different things.

Reminds me of how odd is the disjuncture between the squeaky clean Mormon presentation --pure 1950's Americana-- and the florid religious world it actually inhabits.

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