Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Blame Game

                                                                                                                                                               (Photo by Simpspin)

I was raised to be a Mormon from the very get go. My parents gave us no choice in the matter. It was my entire world. In fact I had no idea that my beliefs were so weird.  It was just part of my life and I didn't question it.  However, I had two brothers from my Dad's first marriage. These two did not stay with us full time. They mostly stayed with their mom, who was catholic. Much like my mom, she had converted to the Mormon church for my Dad, but apparently reneged on it after they separated. The details are hazy on that. One thing was for certain though, my brothers from another mother were not Mormon. They were raised Catholic. 

My brothers lived with us here and there, and I never really had much of a relationship with them since there was a reasonable age difference.  Not extraordinary, but enough difference as kids to create a hefty divide.  It wasn’t just the age difference though.  I was being raised Mormon and they Catholic.  An outsider may wonder why that would make any difference, so I’m going to explain. 

Mormons have a way of attributing their individual success with being good faithful followers. Unfortunately, there's probably more not so successful members than there are successful ones. But they just shrug it off to God challenging them. A workout for their spirit bullshit.  Dad was no stranger to this concept.  It took me being out of the church to finally notice it.  Now to his credit, he is not as bad as others, and is a genuinely nice guy.  He is so willing to help you out if you need, but doesn't prevent a "holier than thou" attitude at times.  I think even more so than my Dad, my Mom relishes in my Dad’s “spiritual” prowess.  Because women can’t have God Powers like the men, they find a lot of their self worth from the position their husband holds.  

Now I’m not going to sit here and claim all Mormons act this way.  Certainly there’s going to be exceptions to this, but I simply found this to be more common than not.  My sister is the same.  She brags about her husband having early morning meetings because he is part of the “executive” leadership.  It is so obvious once you’ve left the church.

Anyway, my Dad, being the “spiritual” giant that he is, always seemed to attribute his successes with his obedience to the Mormon church.  Needless to say, he would look at individual failure as a sign of spiritual ineptitude.  My Dad’s first kids, my half brothers, were no exception to this.  They had a rough upbringing, having to go back and forth between their Mom and our Dad.  Not to mention, they even lived in Germany for some time.  So, when my brothers would screw up, my Dad was quick to judge them, attributing their missteps with their Catholic upbringing.  I can recall my Dad specifically addressing this at times, saying he knows if they were just brought up in the Mormon church, they would not have had the kind of life they’ve chosen for themselves.  I thought it so enlightening at the time, and thanked my lucky stars I was being raised right.

Now, I’m not going to assume anything here, because one of my brothers and I have a great relationship now.  Since I’ve broken free from this mental bondage, We’ve been able to kindle this brotherhood.  It just seems to me that there’s other reasons at play for another person’s decisions in life.  I really feel that by loosely throwing blame at someone’s religious upbringing, it really serves to discredit the real cause.  Instead of looking at your own follies, you too readily blame it on others, thereby protecting yourself from self examination, and potentially an admittance of being wrong.

So I grew up with the mental picture of what it meant to be a Mormon.  It meant to be successful and to bask in the blessings showered down from on high.  God loved his church, and blessed his people.  Mormons had all the answers, and knew the secrets to the eternities.  By knowing such, we were mightier than the most powerful person on the earth.  By making the decisions to follow the Mormon teachings, we would be blessed with better lives, and we would have true happiness.  By not following the Mormon church, you were doomed.  It wasn’t good enough to be Catholic.  That church is an abomination, as taught in the Book of Mormon,

And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.” (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi ch 14, vs 10.)

"It is also to the Book of Mormon to which we turn for the plainest description of the Catholic Church as the great and abominable church." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 130 (1958))

I was taught growing up the “whore of all the earth” was the Catholic Church.  This because it was originally the Catholics, and all Protestant faiths broke off from them.  Mormons see themselves different because they say it didn’t break apart from any church, that it was instead “restored”.   So, because they chose to be Catholic, God was punishing them, and the Devil was influencing them.   Satan had my brothers right where he wanted them, and they would never be truly happy unless they became Mormon.

I always thought my Dad was so correct, and even at times thought myself better than them, because I was on the true path back to God.  I don’t blame myself for this too much, because I’ve been able to see this attitude is common with Mormons.  Yes, on the outside they are accepting as their church will allow, but on the inside they are not.  Mormons secretly judge others, as they believe they are doing God’s work and are rewarded for such.   In reality though, this attitude was not healthy, and as much as the Mormon church teaches the importance of family, this attitude had the potential to put a wedge between family members.  I feel like that is exactly what happened.  

Aside from some real honest moments while enjoying beers together, my brother and I do not discuss this in great detail.  I just choose to enjoy our time together now, without the “holier than though” attitude.  There’s nothing wrong with my brother, there never was.  We just had different lives.  God wasn’t punishing him, and the Devil wasn’t influencing him.  I was an idiot to ever think so.  I don’t agree with his religious beliefs, and he doesn’t agree with mine, but this doesn’t matter when it comes to enjoying each others company.  If only I had figured that out sooner.

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