Restorationism and Cargo Cult (repost)

Perhaps a decent comparison with Modern Mormonism, and its obsession with Restoration, Militarism, and Material Prosperity, is the Cargo Cult

One cult taught that the first page of the bible was torn out, and it revealed a genealogy that linked the tribes of PNG to Abraham.  And although I meet one necessary condition of being John Frum (being born on his day), I am not, as far as I know, John Frum.

Imagine, a millennial supermarket, stocked by the U.S. Armed Forces.  Add Modesty Clothing = Heaven!

Breaking News Reposted: Red Deer Cave People Protest

In yet another embarassing report for the LDS Church and its practice of baptizing dead people, a purportedly non-homo sapien ancient named Uglak Uglab has been “baptized” in Mormon temples, and as the “Ordinance Record” sheet indicates, he was also confirmed a member of the Mormon Church in 2008.  A member of the now extinct Red Deer Cave People, gruntsperson Ok Ok Ok Ha, responded to the news of Uglak’s vicarious baptism by saying, “Ok Ok Ok Ha Ok Ok Ha NGG,” and by making threatening gestures with a scalp taken from an enemy people said to occupy a nearby cave.  An anonymous Cave Person also said, “our peoples have been subject to extermination for thousands of years, by humans like those racist Mormons, and it’s time for the post-mortal cultural slaughter to cease.”  He called for a boycott of the Mormon Mall, except “Nordstrom, which can’t be held responsible for the actions of a few rogue Mormons.”

Mormon Church Spokesman Michael Osmond responded to the report, first released by the watchdog group “Archaeologists Against Baptism of Ancient Peoples” on Monday, by insisting that safeguards are in place to prevent vicarious rituals being performed on behalf of celebrities, Holocaust victims, and, now, fossilized peoples.  “Any person submitting names of fossilized individuals, whether complete skeletons or not,” Mr. Osmond said, “will be subject to some sort of, you know, thing.  Discipline, that’s the word.  Yes, discipline.”  He defended the Mormon Church’s right to practice their religion, and warned of increasing discimination against all peoples of faith, including those of Red Deer Cave.

Mr. Osmond also indicated that Uglak’s baptism counters recent claims that the Mormon Church is racist, having denied priesthood authority to people of African descent for over a century.  The ban was denounced widely by non-racists as “racist,” and only in 1978 removed.  When Uglak’s birthplace was shown to be in China, however, Mr. Osmond suggested that even though “not useful for proving we are not racists,” he explained, “this shows how Mormons embrace, symbolically, people of any sexual orientation.”

Mormon bloggers responded to the news with statements lauding the expansion of vicarious rites to “persons not of homo sapien origin,” one of the key “hot button” topics covered at a recent Mormon Stories Conference.  “Brother OKHA prolly doesn’t understand,” said one anonymous Mormon blogger, “that this is a spiritual work that means, really, nothin at all.  Nothin.  It’s just symbolic, you know, and allows the Church to respond to public opinion polling by baptizing, or not, whatever groups, ethnicities, or A-list celebs it wants, all because it furthers their mission to perform Public Relations work on behalf of the dead.”

[Errata: Gruntsperson Ok Ok Ok Ha has an additional “Ok” after the name “Ha.”  We apologize to any of the Cave people offended or confused by this omission.]

More O.L.G.A. from the First Presidency

Read Denver Snuffer’s review of Volumes 1 and 2 of the Cultural History Here.

Dipping into the old vaults again, I found these little gems of instruction from whoever wrote letters an had a computer sign them. Probably the only time you’ll hear Joseph Fielding Smith use the word “trips” in reference to LSD.  Try to picture him doing the finger-quote thing, and saying “trips”.
1970 Bishops to More throuoghly interview perspective Missionaries

Nearly two decades later, and the list of activities counting as morally unclean has, surprisingly, only grown larger.

1988 Worhtiness of Missionaries – HWH


And yet, being sealed or even legally wed by an Elvis impersonator magically removed the stain of OLGA, at least, well, for some people, some time . . . maybe between October 1982 and December of that year?  The leadership’s position on the matter becomes increasingly unclear (perhaps McKonkie was a stalwart advocate of OLGA?), although it is clear that they don’t want to talk about OLGA any longer.  Ask, don’t ask, hint, allude, maybe point and make gestures in the Recommend Interview?  No clear instruction after 1982.

1982 Jan 5 Oral Sex letter

Umm, why are you bishops asking indelicate questions?

1982 Oct Stop Asking about Oral Sex

Preview of Volume 3 of the Cultural History

A few graphics from pages from Volume 3 of the Cultural History of the Book of Mormon, showing Mormonism around 1900, fairly graphically.  I am reviewing proofs of this volume, and expect to publish in a few weeks.  Next week I’ll post of few more of these little gems.


From Volume 3: Beta

Pages from BOMVol3betaGarments

This early Mormon pinup is from a Sunday School manual in the early 1900s.

Pages from BOMVol3betaUshering

A page discussing the use of the Book of Mormon to teach the eternal principles of ushering to deacons in the early 1900s.

From Volume 3: Delta

Pages from BoMVol3deltaCalled

This is an ad from a church magazine, showing the evolution of “Called to Serve” from a WWI Navy slogan, to an advertising jingle, eventually to a song for Marching Mormon Youth of the 1950s.

Pages from BoMVol3deltaFunny

This appalling humor sheet was the last page of an Improvement Era from the early 1930s, apparently intended to entertain the youth by laughing at “darkies” and whatnot.  Caution: these jokes may be offensive.

Volume Two Released in Two Books!

The second volume of the Cultural History of the Book of Mormon is finally finished and available for purchase.

Due to the length of the volume, it is published in two separate books:

Book A: Voicing Being Power, purchase here

a cultural history of the book of mormon: Volume Two A



Book B: Follies Epic and Novel, purchase here

the cultural history of the book of mormon: volume two B


These books will be available on Kindle and Amazon in a day or two.


Volume One: Setting, A Foundation, of Stones to Stumble Over is available from the publisher, Amazon, and Kindle.

Check out some reviews, and get started undoing all you thought you knew about Mormonism and the Book of Mormon.



Descriptions of Volume 2:

Voicing Being Power

Continuing the ground-breaking first volume’s emphasis on Kirtland Restorationists, Part A of the second volume describes the particular textual practices that pinned their readings of the Bible onto the pages of the Book of Mormon, and spread that reading across a landscape.  This volume also reconstructs how these Restorationist’s readings were scattered across the globe under the name “Mormonism” or “the Gospel,” as the writings of Parley Pratt were copied, quoted, and fragmented into a thousand elders’ voices.  This is Part A of Volume Two, which concludes with Part B, Follies Epic and Novel.  A preview of B is included.

(From the Back Cover)

Into the pews and among the pillars of a restored church, this one raised on the words of Alexander Campbell, Sidney Rigdon, Stone and Scott, landed the Book of Mormon.  Only months after its release from Grandin’s press, Rigdon’s congregation and Morley’s “family” read their doctrines, practices, and supposed restoration of Ancient Things onto the pages of that book.  They integrated it into their church.  How the Disciples did it—the specific practices that tied one book to another, and both into a new thing called Mormonism—is told here.

The Book of Mormon became the Mormonite’s second scripture alongside the Bible, whose most mysterious and obscure passages, purportedly received from the hands of Ezekiel, Isaiah, and David, were said to prophesy of its coming forth.  That book was made to “voice” the Bible, even as the Bible was said to foretell of its release.  The doctrine of “voicing” allows us to see how metatext was picked up by living speakers who also created an imaginary thing—Mormonism, the Gospel, etc.—said to exist independently of their speaking.    We ride along in Part A of Volume Two with Mormonite preachers as they re-arrange the Book of Mormon into thematic sequences better suited to proselytizing Christians, and see how their Mormonism of the1840s and 1850s was the creation of Parley Pratt and his pamphlets, so often recited, copied, and voiced by elders who spread his Mormonism—and its reading of the Book of Mormon as supplementary to the Bible—across and beyond the British empire.


Follies Epic and Novel

(From the Back Cover)

Most of what Joseph Smith seemed to have hoped for, with respect to Saints on the Mississippi, came to an end with his death.  The Saints did as they always do, picked up the pieces and carried on.  Once in Utah, or Deseret as they insisted it be named, Mormons realized they were out of the lands Joseph Smith called Zion; living beyond the End they once thought would come in 1845.  “What are we doing here,” you can still hear them asking in between the lines of sermon after sermon; in Brigham Young’s belligerence and retreat; in calling one another prophet, seer, and revelator, titles more hopeful than accurate; and in every apostles’ eagerly undertaken mission to Europe.  The Book of Mormon was no help answering, after the Lord’s Chosen People had wandered to this desert.

In Utah, as we see here, Mormons fell outside their myth: beyond the geography of Joseph’s American Eden, while the Lord’s Coming seemed long overdue.  They looked for plume and pillar of fire over Sinai, for seraphim to place coals upon their lips, for the City of God to descend, its people to kiss their poverty from dry cheeks.  They were Israel gathering.  But that was all in the future, when Joseph Smith voiced the Lord in January 1841, and warned of them working cursings by their own hands.  In this Part B of Volume Two, the cultural history explores the implications of their move from Nauvoo to Utah, from Joseph to Brigham, from Restorationism to Zionism.  It shows what happens to Saints when they leave their map—the Book of Mormon—far behind, having so long misread it.  Like what it says about kings, for example . . .

Download Excerpt from the Cultural History (vol.1)

In this sample from CHAPTER FIVE  [Excerpt_CulturalHistoryBoMVol1ch5] of Volume One of the Cultural History of the Book of Mormon, I analyze how the history of “the Restored Church” has been reconstructed by missionaries and BYU historians who inherited the traditions of Alexander Campbell and his preachers of Restoration.

In short, a break off from Campbell’s movement saw in the Book of Mormon the doctrines of Restoration they had preached for centuries, and they proceeded to ignore the actual text of the book, deciding they would interpret it for others.  As a movement called the Disciples of Christ took up the Book of Mormon, they layered what I call “metatext” over the book, giving new converts to what Campbell termed “Mormonism” (in early every way a version of Campbellism) a way to be a Mormon without actually having read the new book they claimed as their own.  The historians discussed in this chapter inherited these traditions, and no matter the chronological difficulties, they insist that the Book of Mormon really was part of Joseph Smith’s plan to restore the New Testament church.  As you’ll see in this first volume, neither Joseph Smith nor the Book of Mormon seem terribly interested in that kind of restoration (a matter discussed in detail in chapter two).

DOWNLOAD PDF excerpt from Chapter Five:


You can purchase the book direct, here.

The Kindle Version is up, also you can order a paper copy on Amazon (it’s on sale!)

(NOTE: The PowerPoint Presentation Files of the Cultural History are linked to the book cover below)