Journey to Atheism, part VII

This entry didn’t start out as a musing on the nature of god or belief or anything. If anything, it’s just an example of how thoroughly my doubts were permeating my consciousness — even casual, fun writing found itself turning toward belief and religion.

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For those of you unfamiliar with the LDS faith, let me provide this background on doctrine. The LDS faith does not have religious colleges or schools to train their clergy in accepted, official doctrine. In fact, the LDS church does not have trained clergy at all, or paid clergy. All LDS doctrine is disseminated and taught by untrained, volunteer clergy.

Because of this, the “official” doctrine can often differ in the details, even if the overarching scope of it is agreed upon. With that in mind, I was taught the following:

  • We lived in the pre-existence as spiritual beings. Our station in our earthly life depends our actions in the pre-existence during the heavenly battle when Satan and his 1/3 host of angels rebelled against God’s plan.
  • This earthly life is a test. After we die, we will pass on to one of the 3 Kingdoms of Heaven or Outer Darkness. These are described thusly:
  • Telestial Kingdom, or the lowest of the three heavens. I was often told that Joseph Smith had once said the Telestial Kingdom was possessed of such glorious beauty that any man on earth would kill himself to enjoy the wonders therein. The telestial kingdom included those who had not received the gospel of Christ or the testimony of Jesus, as well as liars, sorcerers, adulterers, whoremongers, and other sins that didn’t qualify one for Outer Darkness.
  • Terrestial Kingdom, or the second degree of heaven. The inhabitants of this kingdom include those who lived good and moral lives, but were blinded by the craftiness of men and thus rejected the fulness of the gospel. They receive the presence of the Son (Jesus), but not the Father (god).
  • Celestial Kingdom, or the third degree of heaven. The inhabitants here were good, moral, temple-worthy, tithe-paying mormons who had accepted the gospel and lived by its precepts in their earthly life. These guys would sit at the right hand of god and eventually become gods and goddesses in their own right. Although I didn’t learn this until after leaving the church, apparently there are 3 degrees of glory within the Celestial Kingdom, and one must attain the highest degree of Celestial glory in order to move onto godhood.
  • Outer Darkness, where the so-called sons of perdition reside. These are people who had first accepted, then rejected the fulness of the gospel, as well as murderers. I was not taught that it was a lake of fire and brimstone; I was taught that it is a cold void and the inhabitants therein are forever separated from god’s love and presence.

I was also taught that if I attained one of the lower kingdoms, I would lose all memory of my earthly life and self, including my family relationships and friendships. If I met with a family member as a telestial or terrestial being, I would greet them as a dear and beloved friend, but I would not know why I greeted them as such.

Naturally, I asked what would happen if I attained the celestial kingdom but, say, my brother attained a lower kingdom — would I know him? Would he know me? The answer I was given was that yes, I would know him, but he would not know me.

Now, while all mormons will agree on the doctrine that the kingdoms Telestial, Terrestial, and Celestial exist, and that Outer Darkness is where the Sons of Perdition reside, not all mormons will believe the specific details I was taught. Many mormons will even claim I had it all wrong, and that I either misunderstood, or that whoever taught me was mistaken.

This is due to the lack of a trained clergy that is fully in agreement on what official LDS doctrine is. I suspect this flaw of the LDS church — the disagreements on what constitutes “official doctrine” will become more pronounced during the election season. Anyway, I digress. This is the entry that sparked that little doctrinal lesson.

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wouldn’t it be awesome?

April 16, 2008

Okay. So we’ve all acknowledged before now that I am, indeed, a geek. Now that that’s on the table, wouldn’t it be awesome if magic was real? God, I wish I had magic. Now, my desire for magic is a perfect example of why humans should never, never have magic. I would not use it for good and the betterment of mankind, blah blah blah. Nope.

I would do things like fix my house in a jiffy. Silencio people who bother me. Or feed them truth-speaking serums, so they walk around spilling all their deepest, most embarrassing secrets to everybody. I would spy on people from afar, and use my magically-enhanced thoughts and/or voice to tell them to do things. Not force them, because that would just be wrong, but suggest. And if you’re hearing a big, booming voice from out of the sky, it’s going to be freaky-funny anyway.

Oooh! Skip my classes and view them from home — with magic! Because magic is cooler than technology. I would come up with spells to make people I don’t like smell bad — or better, to imbue their surroundings with a constant scent that permeates the room and never leaves. Bwah ha ha! Yeah. I would be the ultimate petty evil.

I would marshal an army of cats, who would follow my every command. My army of cats would do things like scratch the doors of those who had offended me, and dig up their flower beds. They would gather in droves on the lawn and have catfights at 3 am. They would walk, dusty-pawed, across the windshield of my enemy’s cars. When my enemy opened the door to attempt to shoo off the cats, or to go about their daily life, the cats would follow the commands I had given them and rub against my enemies ankles, en masse. This would either trip them or trigger a massive allergic reaction. I don’t know, but it would be evil in a petty sort of way.

My special brand of magic would be a mixture of every fantasy book I’ve ever read, with some of my own imaginings thrown in. You’d hear me saying things like, “Obtain that palantir, First Cat! Accio!” I would make up spells to turn peoples hair different colors without them realizing it. I would whisper, “Accio underwear,” when I visited my husband at work. I’m not even going to go into what I would do with magic and sex and all the fun we could have there.

In the religion I grew up in, when I was about 7 or 8, one of my Sunday School teachers said something to the effect of, “If you’re very righteous and very good, when you die and go to heaven, you’ll get your own world to become a God of.”

I got really, really excited, and was all set to give this a shot — until the next class. That’s when she said that we would still have to follow the natural laws of the universe. No magic. No dragons. No flying horses, or armies of cats or talking dogs, or anything cool. What’s the point of that? Nothing fun. How are you even a god if you can’t make up your own rules?

I guess I’ll settle for writing — at least there’s a magic there.

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