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Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Building the Pyramids
Since I posted my Modesty Pyramid the other day, we've had quite the discussion about the Mormons, the Amish and Eve.
Several readers have taken issue with my placement of the Mormons over the Amish for dowdy, fully covered dressing. I'll admit I went round and round with it myself and nearly placed the Amish over the Mormons. For one thing, as readers pointed out, the vast majority of Mormons don't dress in the Little House on the Prairie wardrobe. Think "Marie Osmond". Sister St. Aloysius thought that the Amish should go above the Mormons because they don't even have buttons or faces on their dolls.
So sad to have a doll with no face. Too much like an episode of the Twilight Zone. Eerie.
Anyhow, I have to admit to a bit of religious prejudice in my placement. I think I put the Mormons up higher because I have a higher regard for the Amish style of religious conviction. In other words, when the Amish practice what they preach I can get behind it. Their religious beliefs are apparent in every single choice they make, from carriages to faceless dolls, from no buttons or nails to forgiving a man that came out of nowhere and murdered their children.
The Mormons on the the other hand, the Little House on the Prairie ones, seem to just have one thing in mind, which is an excuse for some old goat to keep adding teenaged girls to his harem.
So if the point of the pyramid is that you can get too carried away, even with modesty, as you reach the top of the pyramid, the reasons for the Little Harem on the Prairie Mormons modesty is more in line with those women in Burkhas than with sensible modest dress or the Amish. At the top of the pyramid, the modesty train has jumped the tracks.
I suppose I should squeeze in the words "Little House on the Prairie" on the Mormon line of the pyramid. Otherwise, I stand by my reasoning.
Meanwhile, back on the Eve front, here's a sampling of how the discussion has gone (you can read the whole thing in the comments section of my previous post):
It is without debate that modern men are the causes of war and greed and more than encourage women into sin -- but it's God's own word that tells us we had our paradise, and Eve was weak. We should bear this in mind -- the pain of childbirth is God's punishment for Eve's sin (Genesis 3:16).
And death is the punishment for Adam's sin. The age old argument has gone along the lines that since Eve started the whole 'eat the apple' sin, the whole mess is her fault. I mentioned before that I take issue with that. I always cringe when I hear the words "since Eve ate the apple..."
And Adam was....what? Down at the bar having a cool one? Adam could have said, "You did WHAT??!! NO! I DO NOT want a bite!" Then he could have run off and found God and told God what had happened, begged God to forgive Eve. Maybe God would have forgiven Eve, maybe he would have only banished Eve and made Eva and Eve could have gone out and married one of those people that lived over there wherever Cain ended up.
If I'm at the office party and you come up to me and tell me there is LSD in the punch and I don't go tell somebody or throw the punch out and I instead run over to the punch bowl and down a cup, yes, you are complicit in the crime, but how is it more your fault than mine that everyone at the party tried to fly out the 88th floor window?
I just don't get the 'blame Eve' reasoning. I guess I'm on 'the sin of Adam' side of the fence.
Not really. I blame them both. The very first time they were confronted with temptation they both caved. That's our heritage.
Say...isn't LSD an acronym for the Morman church? No, no, that's LDS. For a minute there I thought I understood what happened with Joseph Smith and those mysterious missing tablets that only he was able to see.
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Good ol' Google - right next to your post is an ad for Mormon wedding gowns. If they wanted any traffic at all, they would have called themselves "Mormon not-little-house-on-the-prarie wedding gowns."
Poor Eve, if it wasn't for that apple we may not be sitting here writing and perusing these blogs. It was all in the Master Plan...
I really like the Modesty Pyramid. I don't think it really matters whether the Mormons or the Amish are more über-modest. However, it seems like we could be more charitable toward the LDS. They volunteer a lot. They take care of their elders much better than we take care of our aging nun population. Like Joseph Smith's disappearing tablets, the premise of the book of Revelation is that John of Patmos just received an occasionally perplexing message. Juliana of Norwich had her "things seen and unseen." I just happen to think the theology of Juliana of Norwich ("all shall be well") is a little more attractive than that of Joseph Smith. I also think there is something distinctly wrong about cinnamon rolls with fruit punch instead of coffee at Mormon baby showers, but I admire the Mormons for slogging it out.
I do think it is worth mentioning that there is more than one variety of Mormon. The ones who get all crazy about dress and modesty and take more than one wife are called "Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints". They are sort of like our own Independent Fundamentalist Christians... nominally part of our faith but taking things wildly out of context and being fanatical about it. Regular Mormons (the recognized Latter Day Saints) don't get all weird about women's dresses and marry only one wife. Their big deal about modesty has to do with these special garments they have to wear under their regular clothes. And it is regular clothing that they wear. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695271948,00.html
I have huge respect for the Amish as well. They are stellar examples of living the faith.
Since preparing for marriage, I've some what revised my understanding of the sin of our First Parents. Thiers was a marriage par excellence (literally a match made in heaven). Marriage as described by our Savior is two becoming one flesh, and so I don't think one could've sinned without the other sinning as well. It doesn't matter who took the first bite, because they operated as a Divinely united unit.
Also the male vs. female argument was recently thrown out the window for my by a Dominican priest teaching about Theology of the Body. The way he read Adam's response to God was "...the woman that You gave me..." as opposed to the way I usually hear it said "... the woman that You gave me.." So even from the beginning, Man has had a tendency to blame God for the evils we commit.
Sister: this isn't directly related to your pyramid posts, but it's something I've been meaning to ask you. Here goes. How do we know when God is speaking to us?
What I mean is, as a child I took my teachings quite literally and expected a voice from the sky, and was confused when God didn't speak to me like he spoke to people in the bible. As I got older I realized it wasn't like that.
But as an adolescent I would occasionally have ideas that I didn't know where they came from, and attributed these to divine inspiration. I thought God wanted me to go to former-Yugoslavia to do aid work. I didn't even know what aid work involved, just I thought God wanted me to do it. It sounds reasonable.
But there were also times when I thought God wanted me to not eat for days on end, or that God wanted me to self-harm. Both seemed the same kind of divinely inspired idea, I didn't know where else the vivid image of how I should cut myself came from.
I'm a lot older now, and no longer believe God wants me to do those things. But what concerns me is I don't know what to believe is a divinely inspired idea, and what... isn't.
Savage Henry: The test I always use is this: By their fruits you shall know them. What is the outcome of the "inspired" idea? What is the ideal goal? Who does it benefit? Who does it harm?
Also, discussion with your confessor or spiritual director can also help sort these things out.
Thank you so much for your blog. I just stumbled on it, and though I have only read a few entries, I know I'll be reading the rest over the next few days.
I especially like the modesty triangle. Actually, it has been the past few weeks that I have really started getting an "attack of conscious" (or as I usually say, the Holy Spirit is speaking to me) about my state of dress (or has been at times, undress). Being confused, I almost reached for a burqua but know I know that moderation (hey.... moderation and modest share a root word) is what I should be striving for.
God Bless you!
Hi I just stumbled across your blog, I write on LDS cultural topics. Just like another commenter, I just wanted to point out which group of Mormons you're talking about are the extreme fundamentalists who left the mainstream of the LDS Church long ago. 99.9% of self-proclaimed Mormons are average, every-day citizens trying to live a good faith-filled life, raise a good family, and better their community living in your neighborhood.
in regards to mainstream Mormons modesty is a principle that is taught and has some interesting cultural quirks in Mormon communities, some of it has to do with the LDS garment (length of shorts, no sleeveless shirts) as someone mentioned but even for youth and others who do not wear the garment, modesty in dress/speech/and behavior is still a common principle. So some of those cultural quirks: you get businesses that cater to modest prom dresses or long shorts for men and women or long undershirts for women that cover the midriff, and modesty fashion shows showcasing them all. I think you can sometimes pick out a group of Mormons at the beach or the gym, typically more one-piece swimsuits for the women, generally more modest work out clothes for men and women. I don't think you see as many shirts and skins games among Mormon men compared to the overall population. Just small cultural quirks like those.
Given the choice of dressing like a Mormon or an Amish woman I'd take the Amish lady's outfit. The Amish and Old Order Mennonites have a certain stark beauty whereas the Mormons just look frumpy.
Here is a question for you on another topic: when is a good time to put up a Christmas tree?
I know there is no dogma of the Church about this, but maybe you have some advice.
Here's my take:
1. The day after Thanksgiving! This is just too soon, and falls into the whole "Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving and ends at noon on Christmas Day" secular mindset.
2. Dec. 17. It's when Advent becomes "more serious." The second Advent preface is used at Mass and there is a proper for each date. This is also about the time when the Vatican's Christmas tree goes up.
3. Dec. 24. Isn't this the best time?! After all, it's a Christmas tree . . . not an Advent tree. But all the trees are picked over by then . . . and no one really seems to do this anymore.
Sister, I've asked quite a few times (or maybe this is the 2nd or 3rd only) if you really are a nun.
I always thought, growing up Catholic and all and going to Catholic schools/university and being around nuns on countless times, I've never encountered nuns with your hilarious take on all things religious and other stuffs.
I find you funny, very funny. But as a Doubting Thomas most of the time, I need proof. Or a miracle?!
Or maybe the Sisters of Charity that I knew attempted to be more saintlike and pious in their ways and acts.
Don't get me wrong. I truly love your blog!
Thanks for stopping by my blog. Though it would be hard for me to imagine Baby Jesus wearing my Lands End clothes, perhaps his Mother needed them. Although she doesn't seem like the jeans type...
The "Mormons" you are referring to are not Mormons at all - they are part of the FLDS church, which is not recognized by the LDS church. Polygamy was outlawed by the LDS church way back at the end of the 19th century.
I'm with you on the whole blaming Eve thing. One of your other commentors said that Adam was weaker because he gave in to another creature, at least Eve had to be tempted by the devil himself. I do NOT believe Eve's disobedience was any worse that Adam's. The whole of the curse cannot be put on the shoulder's of Eve. The new Eve, Mary, was asked by a messenger of God to be the mother of the saviour. She said "YES", praise God. Mary, the new Eve, more than made up for her ancestors huge mistake. The new Adam, Jesus, took Adam's sin and everyone else's on His shoulders. Doesn't that make up for it all? It certainly does in my mind. I can't wait to go to Christmas Mass (isn't that redundant? It is after all Christ's Mass) now!
Well I acquiesce in but I dream the brief should acquire more info then it has.
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