Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Satan's plan revisited

I promised myself I would stop linking to outrageous posts on Times & Seasons and Millennial Star if I didn't have something to add. Well, this time I do.
A recent post on Millennial Star (and immediately seconded on Times & Seasons) states that the author will strongly encourage his children to go to BYU, because "most modern-day universities administrators seem to be nothing more than owners of Las Vegas casinos who watch the depravity going on." Now this may not be the stupidest thing I've ever read on M-Star, but it's close.
I find it telling that the authors of both posts reference I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe to bolster their claims about modern university life. Now, I haven't read the book (nor do I plan to as it is supposed to be terrible), but most reviews I've read say that it is an embarrassing 74-year-old man's fantasy of what goes on at college. Let's remember that Tom Wolfe graduated from college in 1951. As for what reason both of these hyper-righteous super-conservative bloggernackers are reading what amouts to a dirty old man's fantasty, I'll leave you to decide. (No R-rated movies please, but bring on the smutty literature that backs my warped world view!) I graduated from one of the most liberal universities in the country in 2001, and I think it's sad that older parents allow themselves to be scared by fear-mongering demagogues about the moral state of universities.
But the larger point that I want to make is that it is impossible to shield children forever. And I submit that the harder you try to protect them, the further you will end up pushing them away. The author of the post admits that he doesn't let his kids watch TV. It seems that he never wants them to see the real world, for fear that they will follow in his (now repentant) footsteps.
How is this any different from Satan's plan in the pre-existence? He didn't want to give us any agency so that we would never have an opportunity to sin. He wanted to make the entire world like a big BYU (proof he is evil) so we could never falter.
Let's allow our children the same agency that Jesus gave us all.


Rusty said...

Amen, amen, and amen.

You should go and read his post on the media where he outlines his children's TV schedule (zero hours daily) and his justification for it. It's a trip.

Anonymous said...

Although I don't think it's generally good form to poke fun at blogger's beliefs, I have to agree that I am baffled by the idea that you should send a child to BYU to escape the evils of the world. If the BYU honor code is only thing that is keeping your child from having sex and drinking, then I hope your child never graduates and works in the real world.

I went to school in Utah and in Boston. I got into a LOT more trouble in Boston than I did in Utah. Partly because I had escaped from the iron grasp of Zion and felt that I was old enough to try things out on my own. I don't regret my days of experimenting with sex and alcohol, but I don't think I would have been as quick to break free from my Mormon inhibitions if I had more of a basis for not doing things because I was told I shouldn't do them.

I think the poet Milton described this concept the best - it's called cloistered virtue. It's much easier to be virtuous when you are forced to be virtuous. The real test becomes when you can break the rules with impunity and no one will ever find out.

I think one of the reasons why the folks over at Millenial Star might be so worried about their children letting go of the iron rod, is that they themselves might struggle with their own issues of cloistered virtue. Let's take away everyone's choice to do evil, and then we'll can force everyone to be good. This was Satan's plan, and it IS amazing that so few Mormons recognize it as such.

NFlanders said...

Anonymous: I do want you to know that I struggle with how to respond to some of the more strident posters at M-Star and T&S. I don't want to call them out by name, but when they have posts on two of the three Big Mormon Group Blogs, I feel they are fair game.
I also try not to make ad hominem attacks and just focus on what they are saying (I admit that I am not always successful in this).

Rusty-- I did have a post about the no TV thing a couple weeks ago. And I agree: it's a bit scary.

m said...

i say poke fun at them. w/ comments like that they're asking for them.

i wonder if he's going to equip his kids w/ chastity belts and codpieces when they go out on their first dates when they turn 16.

Rusty said...

Whoa, I'm not making fun of him. In fact, I commend him in his effort to raise his kids righteously. Whether or not his techniques will work remains to be seen. I vehemently dissagree with the techniques and I was just pointing them out (not realizing you had already seen his post).

Making fun of him is no better for our salvation than watching BYUTV is for his kids'.

m said...

i just meant a little friendly teasing, not any real hostility. i'm not really a mean person IRL.

Anonymous said...

I went to high school with a girl raised in a nice protective environment. I'm not saying that she wasn't prepared for the challenges of the real world, but I am saying that the nice teenage molly mormon was a pregnant meth-head within two years of leaving home. And I could start counting the other nice protected girls from high school who didn't get into meth but did get pregnant once they stepped out into the wide world of BYU.

Anonymous said...

There has to be a way to protect your children, but also to allow them to explore the world and find out for themselves what makes them happy and what can screw up their lives.

The Mormons definitely err on the side of protecting their kids from the evils of the real world, but I've seen the problems associated with the other extreme of parents letting their kids do whatever they want to.

Mormon kids find out pretty quickly that normal people drink and smoke and have sex and are quite happy and fulfilled doing these evil things. And then the Mormon kids feel duped and upset that they never got to enjoy drinking with friends or having sex with people they cared about.

Rusty said...


Part of the problem is the idea of "evil" and how people define it. I admit that many, many Mormons consider those things in and of themselves "evil" but I don't know if that's the case. I'd say that having promised not to do those things and then doing them is the sin, not just doing them. If you haven't made a covenant or promise not to do those things, big deal. For sure there are inherent pros and cons to each of those things that has nothing to do with religion, but the "evil" is in the broken promise, not the act itself.

I also take issue with your assumption that Mormon kids feel duped, as if they were tricked. Don't you think that many non-Mormons are duped after having had sex with multiple people or getting drunk or developing lung cancer feel duped that those things didn't bring them the happiness they thought they'd bring? Of course they bring happiness to many poeple, but to make sweeping generalizations is laughable.

m said...

rusty, i kind of like your idea that sin is relevant and that the covenant not to do something is what makes it wrong, not the act itself. but then one would have to ask the question "why would god want me to do all of these things if they're not inherently evil?" one could argue that if this were the case then a lot of mormonism is merely the law of moses 2.0.

i always thought that when christ said that the law of moses was fulfilled in him that it meant an end to commandments that were arbitrary and only meant to test one's obedience. i also think that 99% of mormons would tell you that any commandments the church might put forth are based on eternal truths and not merely there for obedience's sake. they would likely say things like "fornication is evil because it's evil. alcohol is evil, or else why would god give us the word of wisdom?" i would venture that most of them even believe that mormon ideals regarding white shirts, no facial hair or long hair for men, women not in pants, business suits, etc., are somehow based on eternal truths.

i am one of those who feels duped. not because the things that my mormon beliefs and ideals kept me from doing were so great per se, but because for me they were empty covenants. sure, i made promises at baptism and in the temple covenanted to do x, y, and z. but i made those promises w/ a god who could care less about those things, should he exist at all. once i no longer believed that mormonism had divine origins or was really led by god, the covenants i had made kind of seemed moot or irrelevant.

m said...

correction for last post:

"why would god not want me to do all of these things if they're not inherently evil?"

Thomas said...

I actually read "I Am Charlotte Simmons," thought it was pretty good, and didn't think it exaggerated university social life all that much. A sweet young Provo girl going to USC probably wouldn't have much different an experience than the fictional Miss Simmons.

HiRhodes said...

For almost five total years, I maintained a long ponytail as an active mormon male. I also had facial hair and refused to wear white shirts. During the experience of it all, I quickly recognized those who were pure in heart and those who weren't.

I think there is a danger amongst the "straight gate" types which may become so blinded by the "letter of the law" that discerning the "spirit of the law" is put aside.

It saddens me to see so many of my fellow brethren and sisters become so puffed up by their convictions that they disparage others who don't believe exactly the same way.

In the end, everyone of us will receive our just rewards for our actions.

Anonymous said...

I nearly wet my pants laughing when I clicked on the link to the post you were referring to. I haven't been to that blog over a year yet very well remember his kneejerk dittohead mentality that screamed ingorance loudly and often. Thanks for the laugh.