Monday, April 13, 2015

Confessions from a Counterfeit: part two

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“I don’t know. Maybe I believe in life after death because it’s comforting. Maybe I just believe it because I’ve been taught to my whole life. But there’s something in it that feels so certain to me. I’ve just never doubted it before.”

“What’s so comforting to you about it?”

“I just love life. I don’t want it to end.”

“Haha. I’m like the opposite. My life has been really hard. I look at my baby sister, and I just feel bad that she has to live, too. She’ll have to suffer like I have. And I still have so many years of shit left to wade through. I kind of just want it all to end. I’d rather there be nothing after this life.”

“That’s so foreign to me. Isn’t there anything in life you’d like to continue? I mean, if you could choose what heaven was, would life after death be worth it?”

“Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, if there is a life after death, then I don’t think I get to choose it. It just happens. If I came up with my perfect heaven, it would just be some sort of counterfeit I made up in my head.”

“I guess you’re right. But I still want to know, if there were a life after death, and if it was the type that would satisfy you, and if you knew about it, don’t you think it would make the suffering more worth while?”

“It wouldn’t change that the suffering happened.”

“I guess that’s true.”

“Let me ask you a question. If everything ended when you died, and you knew it would end, would you still love life?”

“I’ve never really asked myself that question before.”

“Well what if you’re just doing what you asked me to do? What if you’re just making some counterfeit image of life, calling it heaven, and using it to comfort yourself? Death is just a part of life. If you can’t be okay with it, how can you say you love life?”

“Wow. That’s a heavy question. But I think you’re right about one thing. When I say I love life, I mean I love parts of life. I love the sunrise. I love holding hands with my girlfriend. I love laughing with my friends. But I really hate it when I get sick. And I hate watching people I love suffer. And my roommate really frustrates me. When I say I love life, I don’t think of any of those things.”

“Well if there was a life after death, and it was filled with sickness, suffering, and annoying roommates, would you want that, or no life after death at all?”

“I mean, if it was all just bad, I wouldn’t want it.”

“So you say you love life, but really you just love the parts you like. If life is bigger than just the parts you like, then isn’t your view of the afterlife just a counterfeit?”

“I’m going to have to think about that.”

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“We want our voice to be heard against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God Himself established. We also want our voice to be heard in sustaining the joy and fulfillment that traditional families bring. We must continue to project that voice throughout the world in declaring why marriage and family are so important, why marriage and family really do matter, and why they always will.”
--L Tom Perry, April, 2015

“The Lord ordained marriage between male and female as a law through which spirits should come here and take tabernacles, and enter into the second state of existence. What is the object of this union? is the next question. We are told the object of it; it is clearly expressed; for, says the Lord unto the male and female, I command you to multiply and replenish the earth.”
--Orson Pratt, 1852

“The Twelve…believe it to be their privilege before God to raise up as many children here in the flesh as they can, that they may have a greater kingdom to rule over in eternity…
Oliver Olney, 1845

“A man’s or woman’s glory in eternity, is to depend upon the size of the family… A husband’s rank in eternity must greatly depend upon the number of his wives.”
James H. Kennedy, 1888

“The purpose of increasing one’s family, by marrying several wives, was to have a numerous posterity. It was taught that the larger the family, the greater would be the Kingdom over which the father in the Celestial order of marriage would rule and reign in Eternity.”
Annie Clark Tanner

“According to Joseph Smith, ‘each new woman brought into an eternal union increased not only the potential size of the family kingdom but the man’s exaltation as well.’”
Martha Sonntag Bradley and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward

“The principle of plurality of wives never will be done away… go ahead upon the right principle, young gentlemen, and God bless you forever and ever, and make you fruitful, that we may fill the mountains and then the earth with righteous inhabitants. That is my prayer, and that is my blessing upon all the Saints and upon your posterity after you, forever. Amen”
Heber C. Kimball, 1855

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Tom Perry: You’re very lucky you didn’t live to see what happened in the world to the institution of the traditional family.

Brigham Young: I knew it would get worse. God revealed to me that the world would increase in wickedness until the end of days, and that only in the mountains of the west would the true order of the family be maintained.

Tom: We fought our hardest, but in the end the courts ruled against the traditional family, and even in Utah, counterfeit families were given sanction by the government.

Brigham: So the courts reached as far as Utah in banning the practice of plural marriage? Was monogamy forced on the people? Surely you maintained the sanctity of God’s proper order of marriage despite what the courts said?”

Tom: …                           

Brigham: You mean, you allowed governments of men to change the will of God???

Tom: Are you not aware of the Manifesto?

Brigham: The Manifesto? What Manifesto?

Tom: God revealed to Wilford Woodruff that it was his will that the church end the practice of plural marriage.

Brigham: Then Wilford went astray. God revealed to me as plain as I am speaking to you now that if the church of God ever abandoned the sacred practice of polygamy, or allowed his blessed seed to intermix with the seed of Cain, the descendants of Africa, then it would be apostate and no longer under his guidance.

Tom: With all respect, I think you are mistaken.

Brigham: Marriage between one man and one woman, or between men and women of different races, is just a counterfeit of the true order of heaven, as things shall be in the hereafter: that one white man should join in matrimony with many white women so that they can build kingdoms in this universe to glorify the Most High God.

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Our little systems have their day,
They have their day and cease to be;
They are but broken lights of thee
And Thou, oh Lord, are more than they.

Perplext in faith, but pure in deeds
At last [we] beat [our] music out.
There lives more faith in honest doubt,
Believe me than in half the creeds.

--Alfred Lord Tennyson

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“So I thought a lot about what you asked me last time.”

“I’ve been thinking about it, too. What do you think?”

“I’ve realized that so much of what I think about the world and how people should live their lives is all based on what I think the world will be like after we die. But I created that world. I decided in my head what the ideal would be. And that ideal isn’t the way things are. It’s just a cheap counterfeit. I’ve believed for so long that my counterfeit vision was the real thing…but I’m starting to realize that it’s the opposite.

I always thought the suffering and bad parts of this world were just cheap counterfeits of what was to come in the next life. But I’m starting to realize, they’re part of the substance of life. They’re intimately tied to everything I love about life. I can’t just love a part of life, because the parts I love depend on the parts I hate. We haven’t talked in a few months, and in that time my girlfriend broke up with me. It’s been miserable. But I wouldn’t take the relationship back because of all the beautiful moments we had together.

Life after death used to comfort me so much—but I want to be done living my life based on counterfeits. I want to understand life as it is. If I believe in anything, I want it to be life before death.”

“Wow, that’s a big change. But I really like that. Life before death. I’ve been thinking lately that my perspective was a bit grim. I think there’s something to imagination. After we talked last, I started thinking a lot about what I wish my life was like, and it’s caused me to change a few things. And I’m a lot happier.”

“But you’re imagining things in life, not outside it. “

“I guess that’s right. And it seems to be a really important difference. If you start with an impossible ideal you’ve made up, and then judge life by it, life will never measure up. But I guess we can start with the way things are, and then imagine ways to make it just a little bit better.”

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1 comment:

  1. This is awesome. I love the way you have woven together the ideas of life and death and how we decide what is good and bad and right and wrong.