Sunday, March 06, 2005

Mormon Commandments That Many Americans Would Feel Funny About

Over at Pandagon, Amanda Marcotte wonders what a Ten Commandments monument actually symbolizes and comes up with a convincing exegesis:
But you know what? I believe them that it's about "heritage", or at least taking possession of what Americans believe that our heritage is. Going back to the relational way that people think of dichotomies, it's easy to see. Conservative/liberal is to strict father/nuturant parent is to Old Testament/New Testament. A monument to the 10 Commandments is a symbol of the Old Testament and therefore evokes the multitude of things that we relate to that half of the Bible dichotomy--maleness, discipline, rules, favoritism, everything that is dear to conservatives. The heritage that is being asserted may not be religious at all so much as political. The Commandments symbolize a belief that American history adheres to conservative values and to make people think that liberalism is an uppity newcomer.

The fact that as the monument became a rallying point for conservatives who had no reason ever to step foot in that damn courthouse, the fact that a judge who really should have known better sponsored the damn thing--yeah, the heritage is political.

More to the point, Julian Elson in comments wonders what Mormon commandment could accompany the OT commandments for a truly inclusive religious representation.

Happy to oblige. Here's the early Mormon church on tithing. Note who's speaking in this passage.

Doctrine and Covenants 119
1. Verily, thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop of my church in Zion. 2. For the building of mine house, and for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the Presidency of my church. 3. And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people. 4. And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all of their interest annually, and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my hold priesthood saith the Lord. 5. Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass that all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law, or they shall not be be found worthy to abide among you. 6. And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept thereon, that it may be most holy, behold, verily I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you. 7. And this shall be an ensample unto all the stakes of Zion. Even so. Amen.

And that's Joseph Smith. You should read Brother Brigham for practical socialism:
In reality, we should have only one mess chest, one place of deposit, one store house, one "pile," and that is the kingdom of God upon the earth; it is the only store-shouse there is for Saints, it is the only "pile," the only safe place of deposit, the only place to invest our capital. This is rational to me; and all who contend for an individual interest, a personal "pile," independent of the kingdom of God, will be destroyed. Journal of Discourses 1:341. (Cited in Leonard Arrington's Brigham Young: American Moses, page 182)


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