The Real Reason Evangelicals Don’t Like Mormons
(Originally posted at Crooks & Liars)
Romney had to downplay his Mormonism in ’08, so the recent criticism that the LDS church is a non-Christian cult, from people like Texas Mega-preacher/Rick Perry supporter Robert Jeffress, is not surprising.
You remember Bryan Fischer from the American Family Association? They helped put together Rick Perry’s day of willful ignorance fasting and prayer. Anyway, this guy’s under the impression that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to Mormons.
Via Right Wing Watch:
This guy has a pretty shaky grasp on constitutional law, and reality in general. And while this is just identity politics at its most base, it demonstrates how very peculiar we are regarding what kinds of crazy we’re OK with.
It’s perfectly acceptable to believe that the crucified, human son of an ill-conceived deity resurrects after a three-day dirt-nap, physically flies up to heaven, and Voltrons up with his dad and some ghosty fella to make a Holy Trinitron. But if you believe that the same human son takes a little North American detour after magically coming back to life, and hangs out with some Jewish native Americans, before heading to dad’s gated community in the clouds…that strains credulity.
Mormons don’t even go in for the Voltron thing, which puts them on more plausible theological ground, in my opinion. But I don’t want to get into a crazy-off here, which is to what all theology invariably amounts.
Instead of Mormon Jesus, ponder another quintessentially American hero of myth: Arthur Herbert “Fonzie” Fonzarelli. “There was a certain mysticism to his control over women and Arnold’s jukebox,” says pop culture wonk/shiftless lay-a-bout Ken Huss. “The town believed in the Fonz. Their belief fueled his legend, and gave him confidence.”
Everyone was fine with the retro Italian/Jewish/baptized greaser possessing the supernatural ability to manipulate technology. But the guy jumps over one little shark on water skis, and that’s just ridiculous; I’m never watching this crap again.
Jumping the shark is meant to be the moment a storyline really slips. The writers are out of ideas. They grasp at desperate dramatic straws, stunts, and last-ditch nonsense. Nonsense. To keep the plot rolling and the studio dough rolling in. As the skis part with the sea, the phrase conjures a break with believability.
That happened to me with Battlestar Galactica when Starbuck just…came back to life?! No. That’s lazy, implausible writing. That’s not good enough, Mister Man! You’re just gonna have to write it again! That’s when BSG jumped the proverbial ancient killing machine, for me. Suspension of disbelief: shattered. Because people don’t just come back to life.
And once your suspension of disbelief is gone, the whole series pales in the glaring light of reflection. All of the other nonsense I was willing to – or able to overlook: the 12 colonies business, the cylons, the search for the mystical planet Kobol…it all seemed so silly. And you’re telling me Saul Tigh’s a cylon now? No way! Sorry, but this isn’t entirely a geeky digression.
LDS doctrine was a big influence on BSG. The creator of the original series, Glen Larson, is a devout Mormon. He incorporated LDS themes such as the fusion of time and eternity, and the “council of twelve [apostles],” into the plot. And the planet Kobol is a clear allusion to the LDS planet Kolob, which is where God purportedly lives.
Among other tenets of Mormonism, their thoughts on the afterlife are a huge sticking point for Evangelicals. If you’re a super-good Mormon, you become a God when you die, creator of an alternate universe all to your own. Wild. In a way, Mormons can be said to be polytheists.
But, it’s my contention that, Evangelical intolerance of Mormonism stems from the LDS church turning Jesus into Fonzie, jumping the North American shark. And when you jump that shark, it forces one to reexamine the entire series – or religion. One can’t complain about the ridiculousness of a man jumping a shark on water skis without going back and thinking, “Hey, maybe Fonzie’s supernatural ability to manipulate technology is a bit silly, too.”
The point is that Happy Days always sucked. And you know it.