Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mission impossible

When I first met Mormons and talked to them one thing really amazed me - total inability to think critically about life and deeds of Joseph Smith. Unlike many great prophets Smith didn’t live a thousand years ago and there’re tons of tangible evidence that he was a liar, a con artist and an impostor. Still so many well educated and otherwise smart people who somehow manage to block all their mental activity when it comes to discuss – how comes Smith’s translation of the Egyptian Book of Dead is complete gibberish.

We are talking about pure belief – something that is so deeply ingrained in consciousness that critical approach is almost impossible. Destruction of basic mental axioms can lead to destruction of personality. There cannot be any rational verification for religious beliefs as well as for many cultural beliefs that are close to religious.

What I find fascinating about American mentality – their notions of democracy and freedom are also ingrained. This is the case even with the most educated, sophisticated and intellectual. This is not the case with Europeans. While Brits or Frenchmen also believe in freedom and democracy they are not religious about it and don’t regard it with enthusiastic devotion. With my English friend I can freely discuss problems of democracy and our disputes are not just normal but they also help to discover something new, change to some extent our views or find compromise. With Americans it’s almost always a missionary talking to a heathen. To treat democracy as just another technical model of effective government organization and freedom as a personal feeling of limitations for self-realization is the same as trampling down on the bible. What’s the use of discussing the origins of the Book of Mormon with a faithful Mormon?

This could be just a curious cultural phenomenon if Americans were not so proactive. When your notion of freedom and democracy is so religious and you sincerely believe that your country is democratic and free then you view the world out there also religiously. You divide the world into the Forces of Good (you and your friends) and the Forces of Evil (your enemies). In-between live ignorant and uneducated heathens. You send missionaries to their jungles, educate them, give them holy books, fight with missionaries of wrong churches and get frustrated with the total stupidity of barbarians. They dare to be critical! Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormons from Egyptian. Right? He never studied Egyptian before. Right? Then how comes you don’t see that Jesus gave him the gift of understanding the language!

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

"While Brits or Frenchmen also believe in freedom and democracy they are not religious about it and don’t regard it with enthusiastic devotion."

This could be the reason why they have lost much of their freedom (speech, for example, and the right to effective self-defense), and democracy is increasingly swallowed by EU bureaucrats.

You either believe that freedom is a good in of itself or you do not. As for democracy, it is the lesser of evils.

As for an unshakable faith in spite of all reason, no one beats the leftists.

Anonymous said...

Frenchmen have lost their freedom of speech and the right to effective self-defense? I must live in other country!

Jo

W. Shedd said...

As an American who lived for many years in Europe - and has traveled through Russia and Central Asia - I have to say that most of my fellow countrymen are brainwashed fanatics when it comes to issues of "freedom" and "democracy". These words are treated like holy grails that absolutely can not be viewed critically. It is why we have a born-again religious president who views the world in black-white terms. It is unfortunate that it excludes a larger world view. The founding fathers are viewed as almost holy, the constitution is perfect, In God We Trust, blah blah blah. It's mostly the fault of our crappy public education system, our self-righteous point of view from the two World Wars, and the entertainnewsmedia dumbing-down America.

I for one tend to believe that "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." as is often quoted from Winston Churchill's House of Commons speech on Nov. 11, 1947. Democracy definitely has its problems. It too often panders to a nation's citizens, for example.

Unfortunately in Russia, "democracy" as a political idea is too often tied to privatization efforts (and subsequent results) of the 1990s. It is just an unfortunate result of that time. Also, I feel that most of my Russian friends view democratic debate in government as chaos - they seem to prefer a clear single voice from government. I also perceive this feeling that government should be a bit of a father figure. I'll never forget when Natalia said to me "Your president should MAKE you (Americans) get out and walk more!" Oh sure, that would probably be better for everyone, but how could that happen? No cars on Tuesday and Thursday? Are you kidding?

Maybe there can be some good that comes from having one country that attempts to hold to some ideals of individual freedoms and democratic government. But as we seem to so poorly represent ourselves in recent years, I think we've let down more than just ourselves. We've let down those foreigners and nations who once thought America did stand for some shining light in the world. Perhaps no one was ever so naive. But there is little doubt that the events of the last 5 or 10 years have reduced the strength of believe of even the most fervent democratic idealists in the world outside the USA.

Tim Newman said...

But there is little doubt that the events of the last 5 or 10 years have reduced the strength of believe of even the most fervent democratic idealists in the world outside the USA.

Indeed. And this will lead to one stance on the part of the US: isolationsim. And when that has been practiced in the past, it ain't too pretty. I recall with some regret that the platform of isolationism that Bush was elected
upon was not able to take shape before 9/11 made such policies of action impossible. If anything will teach the world that American action is not always bad it will be a steady period of American non-action.

With a boooming China, America might find after a decade or so that it has far more friends than it realises. A friend in need, and all that...

Tim Newman said...

When I first met Mormons and talked to them one thing really amazed me - total inability to think critically about life and deeds of Joseph Smith. Unlike many great prophets Smith didn’t live a thousand years ago and there’re tons of tangible evidence that he was a liar, a con artist and an impostor. Still so many well educated and otherwise smart people who somehow manage to block all their mental activity when it comes to discuss – how comes Smith’s translation of the Egyptian Book of Dead is complete gibberish.

When I first met Communists and talked to them one thing really amazed me - total inability to think critically about life and deeds of Lenin. Unlike many great prophets Lenin didn’t live a thousand years ago and there’re tons of tangible evidence that he was a liar, a con artist and an impostor. Still so many well educated and otherwise smart people who somehow manage to block all their mental activity when it comes to discuss – how comes Lenin’s translation of the Marx is complete gibberish.

See, you find weirdos and nutcases everywhere. Fortunately the Mormons didn't seize power for 70 years.

Gethsemene Rose said...

Результат оправдания 1 Поэтому, получив оправдание по вере, мы имеем мир с Богом через нашего Господа Иисуса Христа. 2 Через Него нам открыт доступ к благодати, в которой мы сейчас и стоим. И мы хвалимся в надежде на то, что разделим славу Бога. 3 Но не только этим, мы хвалимся и нашими страданиями, потому что знаем, что страдания вырабатывают стойкость. 4 Стойкость дает опытность, а опытность - надежду. 5 А надежда не разочаровывает, потому что Божья любовь излилась в наши сердца через Духа Святого, который дан нам. К Римлянам 5:1-5

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
Frenchmen have lost their freedom of speech and the right to effective self-defense? I must live in other country!

Jo"

I was quoting Konstantin's "Brits and Frenchmen", but was thinking mostly of Brits. I actually know little of French law, but increasingly it would seem that the EU is governing every facet of life, forcing conformity in minute detail of citizens of previously soverign states. Brits can be charged with "racism" at the drop of a hat because of a casual remark or action. One man recently was charged with reving the engine of his auto in a "racist" manner. I was reading about a court case in France where a blogger was being prosecuted for criticizing a newspaper article. Weapons are severely restricted in the UK. Is that very different in France?

As for the EU, remember that the further a government is away from the people, the less control over it the people have.

Dixie

La Russophobe said...

In advanced, civilized, erudite Russia, they have such a well-developed sense of the true meaning of freedom and democracy that you can be sent to jail for one year AT HARD LABOR or fined MORE THAN ONE YEAR'S average wages for writing the following innocuous opinion about President Putin. Now that it's on Konstantin's blog, he too can be arrested and sent to prison. Now wouldn't that be an awful shame!

"За что журналисты любят пресс-службы казенных контор? Вы думаете, за оперативность и достоверность изложения того, что в этих конторах происходит? Нет! Журналисты их любят за талант и очень правильное понимание исторического момента! Вот вам неимоверно жизнеутверждающее сообщение пресс-службы ивановской мэрии. Это ж просто какой-то праздник жизни, буйство гормонов и ликование весны. Гимн деторождению! Итак, дословно.

"В семействе лошадей Пржевальского в ивановском зоопарке пополнение. Эти животные занесены в Красную книгу, в неволе размножаются довольно редко. Это уже второй жеребёнок, появившийся в зоопарке спустя 6 лет после того, как там поселились лошади. Новорождённый чувствует себя хорошо, пока питается только маминым молоком. Им он будет питаться около полугода, а потом постепенно перейдёт на взрослую пищу.
Совсем недавно появилось потомство у лис. Лисят пока посетители не увидят, их бережно охраняют мамы. В ближайшее время ожидается приплод у пони, рысей, волков, многих птиц (фазанов, павлинов, декоративных кур). Впервые на кладку яиц сели канюки-курганники. Пара этих птиц в зоопарке живёт уже 3 года. В этом году птицы сами свили гнездо и сделали кладку. Готовятся к размножению полярные совы, филины, неясыти".

А я то думал, что президент России Владимир Путин просто решил превратиться в фаллический символ страны, выступив с этим полубредовым посланием народу и федеральному собранию: плодитесь и размножайтесь, а то границу защищать некому, а мы вам от нефтедолларов отстегнем по четверти миллиона за каждого второго ребенка, но только не сейчас, когда я президент, а в течение лет десяти, или позже.

Вообще, Путин действительно похож на фаллический символ страны - во всех смыслах. Так отчего же ему было не закрепить этот символизм официально? В послании? Как говорится: уж послал, так послал. Сам на себя, так сказать, всю страну зациклил. Теперь можно смело фигурки соответствующие лепить и продавать - президентская голова в виде головки. Новый народный промысел.

Вся властная и околовластная сволочь, конечно, немедленно изобразила из себя поток сперматозоидов, орущих: да, да, давайте размножаться, а то границу защищать некому. От этого, разумеется, человеческая рождаемость в России не увеличилась, поскольку и фаллос, и его сперматозоиды - не более чем символ. А бабы - они не дуры. Контрацептических средств завались, так что можно и еще десять лет с возрождением нации подождать.

Но вот ивановские лошади Пржевальского, а также канюки-курганники и павлины на призыв президента откликнулись незамедлительно! Заметьте, до этого в неволе они размножаться не хотели. И вообще - в Красной книге находятся. Вот вам и окончательный символизм происходящего. Добро пожаловать в зоопарк!"

Anonymous said...

La Russophobe is desperately trying to spread her lies on other people's pages - obviously because nobody cares about or comments her blog. :)
It's a shame you're not in Russia - otherwise you'd be where you actually belong - prison!
Then again, there're other means of shutting you down... ;)

La Russophobe said...

ANONYMOUS: Lies? That is the column of Vladimir Rakhmankov, and he is on trial right now in the city of Ivanovo for writing it. He can be fined up to $4,000 or jailed at hard labor for one year. You're the liar.

The USSR arrested and silenced Solzhenitsin. Where is the USSR today?

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