My Mormon Encounters saga continues...
Part 1: First Meeting
Part 2: Reading the Book of Mormon
Part 3: Going to Mormon Church
Part 4: Mormon Battalion & General Conference
Part 5: The Missionary Sisters
Part 6: A Talk Among FriendsPart 7: Adam and Free Agency
Part 8: To the Investigators
Part 9: To the Missionaries
I meant to write a few post this past month but time flies whether one is having fun or not, I found. I had resettled closer to downtown San Diego with a friend, a dog, and a lot of projects. My work keeps me on the computer most of the time, though every now and then I also get to do something a bit more calorie-chewing... And we all need that especially after all the holiday feasts of November and December!
|Mormon Battalion Memorial on top of Presidio Hill|
First off, how can there be any free agency (Mormonese for 'free will') if god can unerringly know everyone's future action? If god knew that I would bring the sisters some blackberries that day, then instead I decided to live up to my moniker and smorged up all the blackberries myself, then I would have retroactively proven god wrong now, wouldn't I? So you really can't have it both way; either there is free will/agency and god doesn't know our future decisions, or there is no free will and god knows the future. The way the sisters interpreted the story didn't support the concept of free will at all, but predestination.
My second problem had to do with this idea that god showed wisdom and mercy in penalizing Adam's disobedience by doing him and mankind the great favor of allowing us to die and suffer (in so doing enabling us to 'learn' new things... this little nugget comes from the Book of Moses in The Pearl of Great Price, I think). I would agree that being mortal is a major plus. I shouldn't wish to live so long that I become tired and bored with living! The setting up of this so that Adam had to do a 'bad' thing of disobeying in order for good thing (mortality and spiritual progress) to become available for man bugged me, however. Why would a god purposefully set Adam up to fail and then deigned to chastise him for fulfilling god's plan when he did? And why reward bad behavior? Wouldn't it have been more moral-building to set this up so that good thing can happen only if Adam had chosen to do 'the right thing'?
Don't get me wrong, I have very little tolerance for obedience just for obedience's sake, but the way this story is told to me made it quite clear that obedience is the desirable virtue and that Adam had goofed when he ate the fruit. So... I had a hard time understanding why the Mormons should find this tale so faith-building (even though I am, by now, quite familiar with this religion's running theme of 'the end justifying the means'). It seemed to me that the morals of the story go against both the notion of free agency and the idea of a just god or the virtue of obedience!
Needless to say, this meeting didn't lead me any closer to accepting the Mormons' idea of god. Ultimately, after having asked oneself the questions 'what is god and what, if it exist, is god like?' one also has to ask, 'if there is a god but it is immoral, would I still submit myself to it?'. Do people worship an idea of god because they are afraid of what god can and will do to them if they refuse, or do they worship a god because it is worth worshiping?
A good sport as she always is, Sister Begeistert actually thanked me as we parted for 'making her think again'. Sister Blondchen was harder to read, though I thought she became more a Constanze than a Blond as our meeting came to a close. Was that an improvement? I don't know. Have a look/listen to a marvelous Constanze and see!