You may be familiar with the hilarious 5 Kinds of Mormons from Robert Kirby, illustrated by Pat Bagley. But not as many people remember the next essay in their 1995 classic, Sunday of the Living Dead. It is, of course, the 5 Kinds of non-Mormons. Kirby mentions it in his essay in Dialogue, Confessions of a Modern Day Mobber. However, he doesn’t share them there and I can find them nowhere on the Internet.
I happen to have the book and it is one of my favorites. I will quote from but not share the essay in detail. I believe a man should be paid for his work. For many LDS, Kirby is the only reason they ever visit the Salt Lake Tribune website. The five kinds of non-Mormons are Ignorant Nons, Tolerant Nons, Irked Nons, Furious Nons and Rabid Nons. Ig-nons know utterly zip about Mormons and aren’t interested in knowing more.
Tol-nons think Mormons are quaint but nice and relatively harmless. They don’t care what Mormons do with them after they are dead so long as they leave them alone while they’re alive. Like Ig-nons, Irk-nons know relatively zip about Mormons. The difference being that Irk-nons think they know everything. Fur-nons are not interested in live-and-let-live with Mormons.
To the Fur-nons, Mormons are wrong, wrong, wrong. If you’ve got sixty seconds, and even if you don’t, Fur-nons will tell you all about Adam/God, polygamy, Danites, Mountain Meadows and whatever the latest hot anti-Mormon issue happens to be. Rab-nons cry that anything even remotely connected with Mormonism is out-and-out evil. Most ex-Mormons are found in the Fur-non and Rab-non categories.
Opposition in all things
Those familiar with the Book of Mormon recognize this line from Father Lehi’s teachings to his son Jacob. I confess that even after a relatively full life, I still struggle with the logic behind this one. Lehi teaches that righteousness could not be brought to pass if there were no opposition. I guess without opposition, we would not have a real choice in the most important things in life.
For example, if we did not have the choice to believe that nothing is real unless you can prove it with empirical evidence then how could we ever learn to exercise faith? What is faith if it is not believing in things that are not seen but are nevertheless true? We have a choice to accept that there are simply some things that we cannot prove, because we do not know enough about them.
Lehi teaches us in that an angel of God fell from heaven and became a devil, “having sought that which is evil before God. And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind.” He seeks our misery by opposing all the good things our Heavenly Father wants for us. He presents tantalizing and appealing choices.
We should not be surprised that the devil would be opposed to everything that the LDS Church stands for. The Lord has established His Kingdom and has asked us to help build it up in these latter days. Our involvement in furthering His work is opposed by the adversary and he will do everything he can to prevent us from participating in that process of building and strengthening.
Post Mormons, Ex-Mormons and Anti-Mormons
I can’t imagine anybody who knows anything about the church not being aware that there are those who oppose it. Just as the church is taking advantage of the miracle of the Internet and the Web, those opposed to the church have found a medium that facilitates and lengthens the reach of their message. The anti-Mormon sites far outnumber those that are pro-Mormon.
We know that the adversary makes his work appealing, else why would we desire it or find it attractive? The idea of a website where you can discuss negative things about the church at first seems exciting. Wow! There is a place where you can complain about all the things about being a member of the church that bug you. The other people in the forums are so sympathetic.
Soon the novelty wears off and you go from simply complaining to actively seeking to spread doubt and discontent. You look for new ways to spin the old lies that have been around for as long as the Church has been established. The websites are so appealing and exciting. The spin on most of these sites is that it is good to vent your frustrations and explore your feelings.
Like pornography, these websites that claim they are only there to help you ease your transition out of Mormonism are very addictive. It is so easy to move from a “Post Mormon” experience to an Ex-Mormon point of view and finally to an anti-Mormon stance. For those who thrive on the feedback from peers, the large and spacious building just took on a whole new meaning.
Safely navigating the waters
Some people first start to visit the anti-Mormon sites out of curiosity. Perhaps they are naive and have been sheltered in a faithful LDS home all their lives but are now on their own away at college. Others are converts that have recently discovered that there is another side to what they were taught by the missionaries when they were baptized. Why didn’t they know about these things first? They feel deceived and wonder what else they weren’t told earlier.
Let’s face it, you’re not going to read some things about the controversial subjects in LDS doctrine, practice and history from the official sources. You won’t find blood atonement referenced on lds.org except as it pertains to the blood of the Savior. The Adam-God theory is not discussed there, nor is Mother in Heaven or any works from Grant Palmer or D. Michael Quinn. Signature books is not a favorite among the Brethren. I’m sure you can imagine why.
Visiting some of these sites can be dangerous for those who do not have a sure and solid foundation in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The points being made by those recently disenchanted with the church can be so interesting. How was Mark Hoffman able to fool the leaders of the church into believing that his forgeries were real? The answer to that question deserves a future post. DNA evidence of the American Indians sure was a shocker to some, wasn’t it?
Yes, there must be opposition in all things and you can find it in abundance on the Internet without looking too long or hard. Will seeking out, reading these opposing viewpoints and then discussing them with others strengthen or weaken your testimony? Will your commitment to the gospel increase or decrease as you ponder the words of those who have left the church or have been excommunicated? You want to know about these things but can you handle them?
Seek out the positive blogs and sites
This is my 100th essay since I started writing about the Church six months ago. A day hasn’t gone by in which I haven’t thought and prayed about what I am going to write next. I’m the kind of learner that needs to be able to explain things for myself. Like many of you, I have spent many hours visiting the websites of those who oppose the work of the Lord. As I have written before, I have yet to find anything that hasn’t already been addressed and answered.
I started this blog to help motivate me to regularly study the gospel. I think I took my inspiration from Elder Bednar when he described the different methods that can be employed to study the scriptures. I have been a chronological reader for far too long. I had made many attempts over the years to gather my resources by topic. I have several file cabinets full of material that served me well as a seminary teacher and high council speaker over the years.
Paper files deteriorate after awhile. Some of my earliest papers from my seminary days are ready to crumble to dust. I like to think that the Internet will be around for a long time to come, and probably long after I am dead. I want to leave a legacy after I am dead and gone that my grandchildren can look to and say, “Grandpa sure knew the gospel, didn’t he?” I can make sure they know of my love but I may not be able to teach them all I know until they are more mature.
I love the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is rich and deep. There is so much that can be learned from the official sources of the Church. But because we know there is opposition in all things and because we know the purpose of that opposition, I am convinced that we can also learn from opposing viewpoints. I hope you don’t think me a heretic, but it strengthens my testimony to answer some of this anti-Mormon stuff.