I often ponder how things like religions and movements start, true or false, the fact that they occur can’t be denied. Personally I tend to see people generally good even when they do bad things. I tend to see the core of reasoning that would explain how they see it. This is my take on the history of the religion I once believed that fits that paradigm.
A young treasure digger wants to marry a cute girl, her dad says no way! Get a real job instead of this hunting for treasure with peep stones.
Now this young man has a penchant for jokes and tall tales(his mom even brags about his story telling abilities) he is good at convincing people of the fact that he can look into a stone and find buried treasure, so good in fact they give him money to do it. He doesn’t find anything though and is fined for fraudulent behavior. Still he likes to tell stories and has a great imagination, and there is that girl.
One day he tells a story of finding a book of gold. The story spreads like wildfire. He realizes that if he could publish a book people would buy it.
His cousin (also a prankster) tells him he knows a guy with a book about ancient america, he said the guy got it from some printing shop and it’s the only copy.The treasure hunter sees an opportunity, if he can get this book and get it published he could be an author and make legitimate money, this gold book story could be a great marketing tool. Then he would have a business that was legitimate. Authors are legitimate right?His cousins friend is a preacher and they decide this gold book should be a bible, a new bible, that would get peoples attention! What sells better than the bible!? They would all be equal partners, treasure digger, preacher and cousin.
It would need a miraculous beginning, a way to make sure people thought it was legitimately a bible. The treasure digger was naturally charming and could memorize huge long stories so lets have him ‘translate’ it. Then when people saw them doing that it would seem miraculous.
The treasure digger would tell the story of finding the book and that would promote the book. But they needed money, they needed someone to fund the printing. They found a guy, he loved tall tales and amazing stories. Plus he had a farm that could be leveraged. They promised he would make his money back and more if he funded them, and it was for a good cause, this was the work of God after all.
Soon as word got out about this new bible, they started getting challenges from preachers, one time while telling the story of how the book started, treasure digger embellishes a little bit, talks about forgiveness of sins and other things he hears preachers talk about. People hang on his every word as he speaks. People start calling him a prophet of God. This feeds his ego, he gets even better at spinning the tales/scripture off the cuff.
The organization grows, faster than they expected it to. People are eating up the story of the gold bible. It’s not enough though to just sell books, they see there is real money to be made here with all these followers. There is more to this than just a book to sell, it could be a new religion! Preacher, Cousin and Prophet get caught up in all the excitement, they hadn’t expected this to become a religion, although the preacher really wanted that to happen. The preacher was the one with all the new theology that he felt the world should have. The prophet was supposed to be the figurehead, the ‘Moses’ while the preacher was the ‘Aaron’ that did all the talking. They would all share in the wealth created. Maybe they should start a bank!
Even though the preacher was a great orator and theologian, people looked always to the treasure-digger-turned-prophet. He was the one with the amazing stories. One day he got up and spun some doctrine off the cuff in a meeting. People loved it. He didn’t need his ‘Aaron’ anymore he realized. People looked to him first. It fed his ego.
His ego grew, maybe he was a prophet in reality, maybe this is exactly how Muhammad got his start he thought. He did have grand ideas, he could make this world a better place, and people were listening. He kept doing what he did well, telling everyone the thoughts and stories in his head. The religion grew.
Preacher and Cousin saw the Prophet’s power grow, they told him that if it wasn’t for them he wouldn’t be where he is now. He should remember that!, but he wasn’t listening. Instead he used his power to chastise them, in fact he discovered that he could chastise anyone and so long as they believed it was God speaking through him, people listened. they did what he asked. It was crazy, why would people do that? Maybe he did speak for God. It came natural after all. Wealth was pouring in, he got his wife whom he loved dearly a maid to help around the house. She was cute too.
He loved his wife but man he lusted after that maid, those old bible prophets had lots of wives, makes sense that man should not limit himself to one right? A romp in the hay won’t hurt. Polygamy is born again.
Cousin and Preacher are not happy, they are not near as reckless as this charismatic young charmer become prophet. They were sure this polygamy thing would destroy what they wanted to build. They soon discover that the prophets power is strong, you couldn’t cross him, people believed him. He simply kicked them out for challenging him. They wanted to expose him for the fraud they new he was, but that meant they would be exposed too. Tough place to be in, they retreated and licked their wounds.
Prophet carried on, followers were a plenty now, even after the failed bank and the cries of child molestation all he had to do was move to a new place and ask the followers to go with him. He wouldn’t make the same mistakes this time, don’t take all of your followers money, don’t kill the golden goose. He would use this power for good, after all he was a prophet, right?
Build a city by the river, homestead the land and sell it to all the new converts, send out missionaries, take the word of God to everyone! Don’t just convert people, commit them by covenant to the cause! Wealth was pouring in, just keep giving the people the revelations they want as expect. He WAS a prophet after all. Build a temple as a focus point, a grand building for all to see. This would make the word spread, more would come. They didn’t need to know about the polygamy, not yet, not until they had covenanted to believe. People weren’t ready to know how liberal God was till they had shed their inhibitions.
The city blossomed, this must be how prophets come to be thought the man now running for president of the United States. God uses people via their natural skills, his was revelation, he just knew what to say that the people needed to hear. Sure there were enemies, people that didn’t like him, ones that couldn’t understand what God wanted for everyone, they didn’t understand that love was meant for all. They were still stuck in a puritan mind set. Eventually they would get it. He just had to press forward.
The opposition didn’t stop though, they started a paper! They listed his wives and exposed his secrets, damn them, didn’t they know he was the prophet? You don’t cross the prophet! destroy the paper and the press that printed it! A word from the prophet and it was so.
Rest of the world isn’t so happy, they want to arrest him for destruction of the press. Their parents and grandparents didn’t fight in the revolution for the constitution of freedom and a new start just to have it become a theocracy again a generation later. A warrant goes out for arrest of the prophet. He dodges on a technicality, Lawyers look at the law declare it is treason so that this guy can be extradited and charged.
He runs again, but followers aren’t happy, they have ran several times before, and he is a prophet right? Won’t God protect him? Even if God won’t, what about the legion he created, the army of God, that would protect him, right? He could do it, he could stand the charges and in the end come out even better than before. Say the right thing, like the prophet always did, turn himself in and then come out ahead. He’d been in this position before and it always turned out ok. He wasn’t just some conman, he had a gift, the followers proved it. He wasn’t crazy, God was on his side.
In jail when the shots started he realized he might have been mistaken. When his brother died in front of him he knew it. No time to think, use the gun, fire back and run. There is the window! He must escape. The shots rang out “oh my god …” he said as he fell to his death.
Preacher saw the chance after the death of his partner, he rushed back to take the reigns. No luck though, too many others were vying to control the religion he had helped start so long ago, his baby had a mind of its own now, no longer would it listen to him. The religion scattered, a large group of them ran again to a new place. They were now so different from everyone else they became insular and self sufficient. Crazy from the perspective of the outsiders. The only way to live from the perspective on the inside. The isolation of the new location allowed little influence of the outside world to affect the thinking of those inside. For all his faults, the prophet had been right about one thing, a new religion was born.
Ex-Mormon led here. When your family starts pressing on you the idea of a Heaven where becoming a god is possible, then you will do ANYTHING to achieve that goal, including becoming cruel and ruthless. Don’t let the ads fool you: Mormonism only pretends to be made of good people. They may be polite, but are they GOOD people? No. If you are homosexual or considered an apostate, then they could turn their back on you. Studies show that the homeless youth in Utah is up as high as 40% of the population. They don’t care.
Specifically that homeless youth that is homosexual is 40% of the total youth.
total youth.* God, I’m tired.
I helped you with a little correction there, 🙂 for thus saith the Fridge help the thirsty and sleepy, give them drink and tell them to take a break 🙂
Great post. I came to pretty much the same conclusions some years back.
I was just asking someone THIS VERY MORNING how it is that Mormonism didn’t just survive, but thrived! Such an odd set of beliefs, so many irrational premises, such a demanding way of life. I think you hit the nail on the head: the isolation of the new location allowed little influence of the outside world to affect the thinking of those inside.
Great quote from The Amazing Randi. I may have to steal it!
Great artists steal
-Steve Jobs 🙂
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