If you haven’t seen, you should. I understand… readers who find profanity so offensive they hear nothing else but the cursing and miss context: don’t bother. But for the rest I will leave you something to philosophically chew on that has a lot of historical precedents.
In The Book of Mormon Elder Cunningham… (No relation to Richie from Happy Days.) …has a habit of making up stories to convert the locals. Even the ghostly Joseph Smith chides him. But Elder Cunningham actually does more to convince them than the rest of the Mormons.
The locals rape babies to cure AIDS. He quotes a fictitious passage where Jesus condemned raping babies and gave them a frog instead. Result: they stopped raping babies. He discourages female circumcision in a similar way. He integrates common cultural icons of the time like Star Trek (movies) into holy text-based stories to spice up those stories: tales that may have been spicy when written but not as much now. Then, intermixing their own stories and common cultural references, the locals retell the story to horrified visiting elders. But point being Elder Cunningham converted them when traditional evangelizing mostly failed.
But this goes beyond Mormonism. Christians attempted to torment and murder so many into submission in horrendous ways over quite a few centuries. Fresh fried human flesh anyone? Not me, I’ve had enough already… which qualifies as NONE.
Note: I had a relative who was burned at the stake centuries ago because he wouldn’t join in the religious lynching of a good friend. He wouldn’t testify. He wouldn’t lie. No wonder by the mid 1600s there were no Carmans left in Wales, England, Scotland that we know of.
Lesson being inquisitions, torture, murder may get people to shut up, submit; but only as long as they have to. Eventually they’ll follow their hearts like Puritans, Universalists, Methodists, Unitarians… Mormonism certainly could be counted here: Joseph Smith was murdered one of the times they were chased out of town looking for their “Saltah Lakeah City.”
What actually brought in converts? The (marginally) ‘better’ slave owners let slaves turn to Christ in their own way: form their own churches. (There wasn’t necessarily any good will to this, more not wanting to be in the same sanctuary with inferiors. But it did work. Beating it into them didn’t.) Christians took local pagan holidays and turned them into Christmas and Easter; keeping many of the local customs. For example, garland at one time was the intestines of defeated enemies. Halloween was turned from focusing on the dead to children going house to house, winning costume contests; dressed as R2D2, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, cartoon characters. And here the irony: literalists, fundamentalists, instead of accepting or even attempting to steer what is good nature mocking of a pagan custom, seem intent on making Halloween mock their own faith.
Sense of humor much?
Point being if your goal is change and/or conversion cracking down on the politically or theologically incorrect is actually counterproductive. People tend to be pendulums and, if not immediately, eventually will head the opposite direction. Finding some way to merge the change you want with what they already believe is how change happens.
Communist nations punished Christians. The result was underground churches. They punished capitalism and that resulted in capitalist businesses being built anyway for the rich, the leaders, party members and the rest all knew what the stores did, they just weren’t labeled.
Turning more to politics and social subjects I think we make a mistake when we try to influence with insult, severely ridicule, rhetorical punishment those who think the mercury preservative in thimerosal in injections may contribute to autism, people believe Russia did or didn’t influence 2016, believe Obama wasn’t born in America. I’m not claiming they may not deserve it, I’m saying the result may be the opposite of what’s intended. We need to find common ground, common interests, like Elder Cunningham did. Otherwise the pendulum simply swings more the other way.
Donald Trump, if there’s even the slightest brilliance to what he does, is the Elder Cunningham of politics. To those of us who scratch their heads at the fabrications, the illogic, the absolute lies, the sudden flipping of his claims: like “You wouldn’t beeeeleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevvvvvveee what their (my Kenya investigators) are finding” to claiming Obama should thank him for proving he wasn’t born in Kenya, some of us wonder, “When? Where? In what alternate universe?” But he’s not speaking to us. We’re the enemy. We’re competition. We are to be crushed by whatever means.
Who he is speaking to is obvious: people so entrenched in their own ideology they will believe, they will make excuses, and they will get violent, vandalize cars with stickers they don’t like, intentionally go to places were “libtards” gather. They bring baseball bats, loaded guns, fists ready to fly, feet eager to kick. He is speaking to the people at his rallies who assault protesters, drive through crowds of protesters. He is speaking to the Charlottesville goose steppers who chant, “Jew will not replace us.” You know, America’s brownshirts?
How do you find common ground with those determined to hate you, who have decided anything that pisses you off is good? You can’t, no more than a Jew headed to the ovens can find common ground with Hitler. They can just be defeated. They will never be convinced, converted.
Here’s the difference: fictional Elder Cunningham really believed he had the best interest of the baby banging locals in mind. Christians believed they had the best interests of the pagans in mind. Trump has the best interest of Trump in mind. The voters don’t matter. America doesn’t matter. All that matters in whatever, whomever will make him richer and have more power. And if he can climb up via the worst of the worst, that’s what he will do… is doing.
Did the Electoral College give the presidency to Satan’s version of Elder Cunningham? In their most private moments I imagine even the most ideologically driven Republicans must wonder that during the worst Trumpian moments.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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