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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:52 PM
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Making Fun of Mormonism
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Everyones doing itplanets! tablets! underwear!but is it really so clever?

December 5, 2011
By Max Mueller

Sacred underwear, baptizing holocaust victims, gods of their own planets.

When some of Americas most celebrated pundits and public intellectuals talk about Mormons, these are the images that are summoned. Ironically in this Mormon Momentsignaled by a hit Broadway musical, polygamous housewives on TLC, and of course two Mormon presidential candidatesMormons, long considered quintessential outsiders to mainstream American culture, today find themselves at the center of the American zeitgeist. Yet it is the Mormons supposed theological weirdness that is the centripetal attraction.

As Joanna Brooks has noted in these pages, the New York Times recently featured Harold Blooms musings on how a President Romney would govern a country, and a planet, from which he would in the afterlife depart, becoming the god of his celestial body. More planet talk happened just last week on the Chronicle of Higher Educations Brainstorm Blog. Michael Ruse, philosopher of biology, asserted that it is legitimate not to vote for a presidential candidate whose theology is totally barmy. We can become gods with our own planets! No coffee and tea is bad enough. But the underwear! In October, in a column called Anne Frank, a Mormon? Maureen Dowd offered (via Bill Maher and Christopher Hitchens) the full rundown of Mormon weirdness, from Joseph Smiths uneasy reputation to the Jewish dust-up: the posthumous baptism of Jews.

Casual assertions of knowledge about Mormon theology have dismayed longtime scholars of Mormonism. UNCs Laurie Maffly-Kipp recently told me that while seeming to archly critique the evangelical and atheist attacks on Mormonism, Dowds column in particular represented one pithy stroke of ignorance masquerading as informed opinion.
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