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Notes on Mormonism

Posted by Hajduk on Saturday, January 27 2018 at 01:53:57AM
In reply to God - Part Two posted by Baldur on Thursday, January 25 2018 at 10:04:43AM

One more religion I will mention is Mormonism. I am not closely familiar with it, but many of its claims are obviously false - bizarre even - and yet Mormon believers who follow its tenets tend to be successful and happy. (For the most part - obviously there are exceptions, which might point to there being no single religion that is right for everyone.) I actually like the bizarreness of Mormon doctrine because it should be relatively easy for a believer to come to recognize both its being false and its being useful.

It's impossible to make a complete survey of all religions I would give a chance to. And even theological disagreement doesn't really prevent the deal for me. I've learned to agree with almost nothing of Catholic theology... but as a religion capable of reaching majorities and being balanced between the kind of zealous practice of "extreme" religions and the anything goes spirit of "new-age-y" religions, then Catholicism is the best among Christian branches and maybe the best in the world. Yes, I'd like better to marry my girls Protestant, but I can take the ceremony being Catholic.

Mormonism is an excellent case study. It started in concrete, known dates, with foundational events very well historically described, by all of believers, schismatics, and enemies. It started with a genetic community no different from the community it split from (Northeast and Midwest White America of the middle 19th century). It has since developed in relative isolation, allowing both for genetics to become distinctive, and for its values to become dominant locally where it is a majority (mainly Utah and the closer areas of bordering states).

150+ years later, Mormons are only behind Jews as the richest, smartest and best represented among the elite (rich people, entrepreneurs, lawyers, college graduates and postgraduates...) religious group in America (despite conversion being easier and active missionary work never stopping). This is even clearer if we only include either of Whites (thus controlling for Asians) or of Christians (thus controlling for Jews). Unlike Jews, they still have a high degree of attendance, personal importance of religion, and close familiarity with their own religious texts; and a low degree of divorce, remarriage and single parenthood.

Whatever it is that Mormonism has, quite clearly, it works sociologically speaking.

Mormons are not the only such experiment, though. An experiment with many similar features are Sikhs. And, may I add, Sikhs are, on top, military minded, with a definite overrepresentation in all the armed services of Bharat (and before it, the Raj).

To some degree Protestantism was such an experiment, but Protestants, mostly, either became majorities in one generation or were persecuted consistently to extinction or insignificance. Except for Hungarian Calvinists, I really can't think of a Protestant minority in Catholic or Orthodox countries with the degree of local success which Mormons and Sikhs have until the 20th century.

But how Mormons have been successful is itself a great story to tell.

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