Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Collisions of the Faith: Mormons vs. Buddhists

I adore Mormons.  Yes, I lived in Salt Lake City for 13 years and they were not happy years, and yes, I still frick'n have PTSD as a result, but still, I adore Mormons.  How can you not?  They're so nice.  They make Texans look blunt and abrupt.  They're so pretty. Mostly of Scandinavian descent (ahem, ahem).  Plus, they love their families.  I mean, seriously.  They love their families.  You do, of course, know that the reason the whole anti-same-sex marriage thing is petering out is because the Mormons, the driving force behind it, realized they were on an unsustainable course with their own faith. Yes, of course they were.  They were out there attacking "the gays" and suddenly somebody said, "Wait a minute.  My son is gay."  Then somebody else said, "Oh my God.  I have a gay aunt."  And just like a soap bubble bursting on the nose of a curious cat, the whole thing began to fall apart. Because the family is paramount in Mormonism.  The family is everything.  You always defend and stand with members of your family, no matter what.  And when they realized they were in essence attacking their own family members, that was the end of it.  Now there's no one left to carry the anti-same-sex marriage banner but a couple of hardcore old Republican guys, and even their own Young Republicans are saying, "Dudes.  Knock it off or we'll give all our money to Rand Paul."  Oh, and I forgot to mention weddings.  Mormons love weddings more than Greeks and Mexicans combined.  So how can more weddings possibly be bad?

Besides all that, they dress well and send their kids off to preach the faith at a tender age.  Two of the nicest boys knocked on my door the other day and we chatted about Salt Lake City for at least 20 minutes. They wouldn't come inside because there was no man in the house, except Caesar the Cat, but I was still happy to see them.  Because they're so nice.  Did I mention they were nice?

The only thing about Mormons that I don't like is that there's a serious problem in the afterlife.  In fact, Mormons and Buddhists collide so violently in the hereafter that they cannot possibly both be right.  It's not like there's a Mormon heaven somewhere and a Buddhist heaven somewhere else.  If the Mormon heaven exists, then the Buddhist afterlife cannot, and vice versa.  It's like the proverbial unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. I get this mental picture of Joseph Smith and H.H. the Thirteenth Dalai Lama pounding the crap out of each other somewhere in outer space.  I don't know who's gonna win, but it's ugly.

Mormons, in case you did not know this, do this thing called "baptism by proxy" or, as it's more commonly known, "baptism of the dead".  Which is exactly what it sounds like.  You, the living person, voluntarily allow yourself to be baptized in the name of someone who has died (and considering the Mormons go for total immersion, this is no small thing.  I mean, people have drowned.)  The reason for doing this is historical.  Mormonism, or the Church of Latter-Day Saints as it's formally called, only came about in the 1800s.  Before that, we have some 10,000 years of human history, not counting the other 300,000 years when we were still getting used to being homo sapiens, in which there was no Mormonism.  Therefore, if you believe that yours is the One True Church (and Mormons do), there's scads and scads of predeceased humans who died without ever hearing the Good News.  And they're all burning in hell.  Which, if you ask me, is a terrible thing to happen to you just because you never got to hear the Good News.

So, what Mormons do is research their family histories (you were wondering why the did that, didn't you?) in their chain of genealogical libraries, which are the best in the world.  I don't know if you've ever tried to trace your family history, but I promise it is not easy.  Oh, sure, your grandparents and great-grandparents you probably know by name, but much farther than that and you're combing through old census records, baptismal records, marriage certificates and all kinds of stuff.  And when it comes to more distant relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins) it gets even more complicated.  My mother does this (not, as far as I'm aware, to baptize dead people, though one never knows) and though she's put in considerable time and effort over several years, I don't even think she's past the 1700s yet, never mind out of America and back to the Old World.  I know I'm from Iceland, that part was easy, but other than that, the rumor is that we're English.  Or maybe Scotch-Irish.  I'd rather be Scotch-Irish, even if they did chase the Native Americans out of Appalachia.

Anyway, if you're a Mormon, this is a sacred duty.  You find out who your relatives are so you can be baptized in their names, thus giving them a get-out-of-hell-free card if they want to accept and embrace the true Church.  From what I understand, it's still a choice.  If they want to stay, say, Methodist, they can stay in hell. Without the baptism by proxy, though, there's no choice at all.  So you can see why somebody would want to be a proxy.  It's the Right Thing To Do.

Buddhists, you know, don't do the whole heaven thing.  They come back and live again, even, for the most part, if they become enlightened.  Once you're enlightened, see, you can choose to become a bodhisattva, which means you choose to come back even though you could skip it to teach the dharma to others "until even the grass is enlightened."  So if you come back, and go on to live another life, and you're, say, an eighth-grader in Beijing or something, what happens if somebody baptizes you by proxy in the name of the dead person you once were?  Do you suddenly get yanked out of your body and arrive in Mormon heaven?  And what happens to your body, if you decide to stay in Mormon heaven?  Does it just keep on going without you?  Without a soul and all that?

Imagine a world full of mostly-Asian people walking around without a soul.  Maybe it's already happened.  Maybe that's how you explain Pol Pot and Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong, Junior.  Before anybody panics and suggests we wipe out Southeast Asia, though, let me point out that most psychopathic serial killers are not Asian.  So if anybody's walking around without a soul, it's non-Mormon Christian white guys.

Still, it bears being concerned about.  Because Buddhists don't kill things, right?  And so the very last thing you'd want to be as a Buddhist is a serial killer, see?  So that's why we're on this collision course with Mormons.  Only one can win.  So, I say be as nice to each other in this life as possible.  If the Mormons win, you'll get your chance to go to Mormon heaven sooner.  If the Buddhists win, you'll be more likely to be reincarnated as a Mormon.

Either way, behave, y'all.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Joan points out that Joseph Smith would win. H.H.D.L. 13 was reincarnated as H.H.D.L. 14, leaving Joseph Smith to fight with himself.