Thursday, January 15, 2015

Garmie behaviour is not normal

I was trying to find funny stuff about American cults. Many were the creation of XIXth century America. They all have the American 'exceptionalism' incorporated. To those outside these religions there is much to laugh at on account of their beliefs and behaviours. But beside that, and experiential weirdness, humour is hard to find.

The two biggest cults are the Jehovah's Witnesses (Bible Students, Russelites, Watchtower), and the Mormons (Latter Day Saints). Of the two, the former are very depressing; the enforced madness looks very unhappy from the outside. The latter is far goofier [it is not surprising that there are many Mormon science fiction writers, Battlestar Galactica plagarises the religion], but has moments of lightness. Some things they share: they recruit and assimilate members like Star Trek's Borg; they have profound contempt for Christians, while considering themselves the restored, original church; they control members' lives, and to be shunned/disfellowed is made a fearful ostracisation. It is easy to consider all religions cultish and strange. Some beyond bizarre beliefs, and impossible contradictions [in Hollywood this is called script continuity problems] to logic, history, and its own mythology. They reject everything they do not control. As a person, one is cut off from non-members (the rest of humanity).

Saint Augustine wrote the very long, 'City of God'. He makes a dichotomy of the Cities of God, and Man. A Christian can live in the latter without being a part of it, and be a citizen of the former. The way most would define the modern cult would have to say they only really live in the world of the cult. If one were to give the cult equal standing with more accepted religions, one could say they live in the(ir) City of God, but are only present in the City of Man as an alien, or hostage, or double agent.

What ex-Mormons, and Mormons, comfortable in revealing, remark as the thing 'Gentiles' question the most is the underwear; 'the garment' as they call it. Now many Mormons believe that it has a protective quality. Joseph Smith (their prophet, creator) died in a shootout. He was not wearing the garment, a fatal error. Other Mormons believe that the underwear saved their lives in wartime, in car wrecks, and so on. Gentiles (non-Mormons) have called it 'magic underwear'.

The Indians of the Mormon areas produced the Ghost Dance, and the Ghost Shirt. The Paiute Prophet, Wovoka, believed the dance would bring peace, prosperity, and unity to the Indians and reunite the dead with living.  In 1889-90 it spread through the West. Different Indians added their own elements; for the Lakota Sioux, the shirt would stop bullets. A great fear came over the non-Indians, and government agencies. Some of the Lakota Sioux accepted the new religion, and it strengthened their resistance to the army. They danced, wore the shirts, and were massacred (mostly women and children) at Wounded Knee. James Mooney, an anthropologist, who lived amongst many Indians thought the source of the Ghost Shirt was the Mormon Temple Garment [which was a Masonic Garment]. Mormons living in Utah recognised elements of the religion as familiar.

I, immediately, thought the Ghost Shirt came from the Mormons because of the shared geography. How much co-incidence is there? and then more study of their beliefs, and i felt more certainty. Now, the creators of Superman were two Jewish boys from Cleveland's Glenville; i wonder what they read. Superman's underwear and cloak were underneath Clark Kent's clothes, and bullets would bounce off the diamond 'S'. From 1978 to 2013 'underoos' were made for children. In 2014 a licensing agreement was made for adult sizes. Well, one of the few funny lines i found while reading was "Garmie behavior is not normal". The writer had left Mormonism and had that to get it off her chest. On the chat board her interlocutor wrote, "I think it out-weirds JWs by a million gazillion miles".  Isn't that half the distance to Kolob [the home planet or star of God the Father/Adam/Elohim/sometimes Michael]? Superman came from Krypton.

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