Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Mormon Worldview

I had a totally unexpected memory a few days ago.  A children's song I used to know well but hadn't listened to in years and years suddenly got stuck in my head.

I was at work when the song inexplicably came to mind.  And, immediately struck by the obvious irony of the song that had never occurred to me as a child, I found myself chuckling.  It's a good thing no one saw me, because laughter without an observable trigger is generally construed as a sign of insanity.

My mom used to play this collection of LDS children's songs every now and then, and I remember liking them.  My sister and I would sing along to them. It was probably not an official church product  (come to think of it, it might not have actually been of LDS origins) and I'm pretty sure it was on a record, so it was probably already kind of dated back when we used to listen to it.  And after spending an embarrassing amount of time Googling what snippets of lyrics I could remember, I came up with absolutely nothing.  I don't know where these songs came from.

And since I can't verify the song's lyrics or even its existence, I'll just hope I'm remembering these two lines correctly:
The Pharisees and Sadducees, they did not know what Jesus was
They could not see what didn't fit their picture of the world.
The irony, of course, is that this song mocks one of the most frustrating characteristics of many faithful Mormons--the refusal to accept or even acknowledge things that don't fit into their Mormon worldview. My parents, despite being educated and reasonably intelligent, just can't see that Joseph Smith was a con man, that the church brainwashed them and all their children, that being gay is not a choice, that tattoos are not the mark of a lesser person, or that it's actually a good thing my girlfriend lives with me because she doesn't make enough money to support herself and she no longer has family in the area.

They can't see what doesn't fit their picture of the world but they have derided that precise quality when discussing Pharisees, Sadducees, Lamanites, anti-Mormons, Scientologists and Democrats.

And it's not just that they can't see it--it's that they won't.  There are some serious mental and ideological gymnastics required to make some concepts jive with their preconceived notions.  They're modifying the results to conform to the hypothesis.  And I know we're all guilty of that sometimes--bias and preconception are difficult to escape entirely.  But there are some occasions when my family's hypocrisy is just too egregious for me to easily forgive.

And I'm pretty sure that the majority of it is a direct result of lifelong participation in Mormonism.

Incidentally, if anybody recognizes that song or knows where it comes from, I'm still dying to know.  I think I have an unhealthy urge to review the indoctrination of my childhood.  On the off-chance that anyone will remember these songs, I leave you with part of the song I remember the best:
My name is Paul and I used to [something something]
Saying Jesus couldn't be real
But then something happened to teach me a lesson
And it changed the way I feel 
Oh, I'm off on a mission
There's important work to do
Oh, you've got to share a good thing
When a good thing comes to you
I know Jesus is the son of God
I know the gospel's true
Oh, I'm off on a mission
I'm a Christian through and through
Sound familiar to anybody?


  1. The songs don't sound familiar to this 54 year old lifer so they must pre-date me like around 1950's maybe. I'll ask my mom a 91 year old lifer if she recognizes them.

    I read your post and think of all the times I made everything fit my picture of the world. Cognitive Dissonance played a HUGE role in my staying in the church as long as I did. Then at some point my picture of the world expanded and my questions became bigger than the answers and I left. Happily ever after...

    1. I feel like the artwork on the record sleeve was kind of...old school...too. I wouldn't be surprised if it was from the fifties, although in my very-not-expert opinion, I'd have guessed sixties. I may need to break into my parents' house sometime and rifle through their records.

      I was pretty good at forcing things to fit my picture of the world too. I had a pretty great argument against gay marriage back in the day...which I recognize now is rubbish. Luckily, I eventually discovered things I couldn't make conform to my beliefs, and, as you say, happily ever after!

  2. I thought I'd heard most every song out there that could have been popular in a Mormon home, but I don't know that one. Yes, you should look for it at your parent's house. You have me curious. I would love to see the album cover as well. My wife hasn't heard of it either, and her parents are about as fanatical Mormon as you can get.

  3. Hmm, the mystery deepens. Next time my parents are at the temple, maybe I'll take a trip over to the house. I've been meaning to surreptitiously procure my old scriptures, too.

  4. You know they have a new film. I hear it's 13 minutes longer than the old one. That means you'll have a little more time to look. A Bishop told me that it's way more dramatic and is scaring the old ladies enough that they'll continue to screen the old version at selected times.

    1. Haha. Maybe it's healthy to be scared. Maybe it means the film is accurately depicting Satan.

    2. It's strange how they can LOVE the Book of Mormon with all the murder, rape, burning at stakes, chopping off arms, etc., but a story about Adam and Eve scares them.