I read “9 Reasons to Stop Being Afraid of Mormons” a few days ago, more out of curiosity than anything else and, honestly, I didn’t think much of it. Its author, Brittany Mullen, attempts to explain some of the “weird things” that people have heard about Mormons and why those things shouldn’t prevent people from thinking that Mormons are “cool”. She attempts to placate and inform non-Mormons without saying much at all, telling half-truths and skirting around issues so as to avoid too many questions that would no doubt expose her as being the last person on earth who should be explaining Mormon doctrine. Judging by the comments at the end of her blog entry the only people she really impresses are Mormons themselves. This is understandable because Mormons like hearing other Mormons mirroring their own beliefs, as it somehow miraculously validates them.
1. We Don’t Think You’re Going to Hell
Now I had initially intended to address all 9 of Brittany’s reasons, and I may well do so eventually, but I found that I had a lot to say about her first reason to stop being afraid of Mormons, more than enough to create a satisfactory blog entry.
She actually says very little about Mormon hell, choosing instead to link to an article by Elder B. Renato Maldonado that explains the three degrees of glory, but what she does say caused an emotional reaction in me, which I put down to my strong dislike for the topic, built up over years as an active Mormon. She writes:
…unlike many other churches, we don’t think that means that everyone who doesn’t believe the things we do is going to Hell.
This is one of my very favorite elements of the LDS church, actually. Our view of heaven is one of the most inclusive, merciful concepts of the afterlife I’ve ever come across. …
Amazingly, this is all she says. I’m not sure why, but I can hazard a guess that the sum total of her inner-most ponderings on the subject are just as few as the words she’s using to explain why certain individuals who don’t believe as she does are not going to end up in hell. I invite her to correct me on this. It’s staggering that she thinks that her few words – oh, and an article! – will explain what she views as simply a misunderstanding of doctrine and will make her look cool. It’s actually insulting that she thinks such an important topic warrants so little, and she does herself few favours by linking to Maldonado’s article because all that says to me is she doesn’t have a mind of her own – this is what a male LDS leader says, so she happily concurs. I would have preferred to read her thoughts and reasoning on the subject. After all, she claims in her entry that she is able to “unequivocally dispel” incorrect ideas about Mormons, but, in this instance, she lets somebody else try to do it.
I couldn’t disagree with her statement that the Mormon “view of heaven is one of the most inclusive, merciful concepts of the afterlife” more strongly if I tried. Her declaration irked me a lot, as it touched on a nerve. I spent quite a bit of time thinking about the afterlife as a Mormon and I ended up concluding that spending an eternity in any of the three kingdoms of glory would be a hellish nightmare. Of course, I tried to ignore my dissident thoughts, but it was very difficult to do so. On the surface I can understand why she would view Mormon heaven as “most inclusive” and “merciful” but it’s evident that she hasn’t thought much about it. In typical Mormon fashion she instead chooses to enthusiastically receive the sales jargon that silkily spills from the mouths of LDS prophets and apostles without question. There are ramifications to Brittany’s beliefs that I’m confident she hasn’t thought about. I seriously think that my own complete annihilation is preferable to inheriting any kingdom of glory. Let me try and explain my line of reasoning, and why I would think such an awful thing.
Mormons conveniently believe that humankind is under a God-given veil of forgetfulness that blocks people’s memories of their pre-mortal existence. This veil enables people to exercise faith in Heavenly Father because it takes away any and all memories of Him and Heavenly Mother. If people had memories of their lives with their Heavenly Parents before they came to earth, there would be no test or trial in the here and now. But eventually, this temporary veil will be lifted and our memories will come flooding back, and we will find that we can perfectly remember our pre-earth life and everything that entailed. Including the great love and devotion that we, as eternal sons and daughters, had for our Heavenly Parents and each other, and there’s the rub that would turn an inheritance of a lesser unimaginable glory into a living hell.
Most people won’t be able to return to live in the presence of the Father and Mother, because they will have done something while on earth that negates them from ever living in Their presence again. Drinking coffee, maybe. They will be judged as undeserving and cast out of the celestial kingdom and so will be assigned to live forever in a lower kingdom, which appears mightily ironic to me. Because while God demands that we treat each other with love and respect in mortality, at His judgement seat He is willing to forgo love, forgiveness and mercy, preferring to damn and crush His own spirit offspring with an eternal weight of punishment for something they did or didn’t do while in mortality. Nothing, absolutely nothing, we could ever do while on the earth could justifiably merit an eternal punishment. This is not justice, this is monstrosity.
He is the one who put the God-damned veil of forgetfulness over us in the first place, so surely He has to take the blame for us not believing in Him, choosing the wrong church, being sceptical about His very existence because of a lack of evidence and even forsaking Him when trials come and He offers no obvious support or relief, etc. The veil is a mitigating circumstance that demands that we be found not guilty. If He truly wanted us to return to His presence then He shouldn’t have placed such a huge impediment in our way, and to make matters even worse, He’s blessed us with brains that are designed to use reason and logic and not faith as a tool for understanding. Yet faith is how we supposedly find Him. None of this makes any sense whatsoever. Is it any wonder that I’m now an atheist?
Anyway, I can’t help but wonder how glorious it will be for those who are condemned to live forever in the terrestrial and telestial worlds, especially whilst remembering again the deep love they had for Father and Mother only to be rejected by Them outright. It’s difficult to imagine anything more painful and heart-wrenching, and even if you manage to find yourself in the second lowest kingdom your Heavenly Parents will never, ever visit you there. But Jesus will. Also, you haven’t just lost your Parents but many, many close familial relationships. Now where is the glory in this? Is the Mormon view of heaven still “the most inclusive, merciful concepts of the afterlife”, Brittany? Or is this actually hell? This is all hugely ironic considering the LDS Church touts the concept of forever families.
I really detest all of this talk about how glorious the lower kingdoms will be. Seriously, I doubt any amount of glory will counterbalance the colossal amount of loss that lower kingdom individuals will be feeling now that the veil of forgetfulness is gone, nor the huge regret of not doing things differently while on earth. I’m sorry, but I find it immensely difficult to see the glory here, neither the mercy of an all-loving Father. I see cruelty in its worst form. There is no glory where Parents and children are completely separated for all eternity.
I said earlier that I thought that all three kingdoms of glory would be a hellish nightmare, so I just want to clarify this statement. Obviously, I don’t like the idea of ending up in the celestial kingdom either, where everybody will eventually be a perfect clone of everybody else. Mormons are taught that they need to be on the road that will eventually lead to being as perfect as their Heavenly Parents. Perfection is a destination that I would never want to arrive at. Give me the journey any day. Perfection in heaven seems to be nothing more than the discontinuation of challenges, learning, individuality, progress, fun, wonder and amazement, discovery, excitement, among many, many other things. In short, being perfect would bring to an end everything that makes me feel truly alive. In my opinion, Mormon heaven – all three degrees of it! – is just hell by another name.