Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Dark Sacraments

July 07th, 2017 by Patrick Henry

Dark sacraments are little rituals of transgression that bind a group together.  The Mafioso killing someone to become a made man is a dark sacrament.  Or think of Mark Stoddard being asked to trample on the crucifix as part of his initiation into the inner circle of N.I.C.E.  That’s a dark sacrament too.  The idea is to do some act that the larger society  finds disgusting.  Or the natural conscience.  Either way works.

The surging outer right has a number of dark sacraments, as far as I can tell.  For some, anti-semitism is their dark sacrament.  For others, racism.  For others, misogyny.  Groups that are calmer along these lines have their own version of transgressive commitments to monarchy and to degrading the American Founding.

A surprising number of the intellectual hard right have mentioned in passing that they burned a book when they were younger.

Does Mormonism have any “dark sacraments”? There is a fair amount of implicit and explicit patriarchy in Mormonism, but its not taught as a cohesive belief structure that everyone needs to assent to, in defiance of the world.

Conventional Christians probably see our belief that God has a body and that He aims to exalt us as a blasphemous, transgressive dark sacrament.

But mostly the things that we do that make other folks eye us askance are anti-dark sacraments.  They have premarital sex, and we don’t.  In today’s USA, there is no better way to get people to look at you not just as odd but as creepily, dangerously odd, than to admit you never slept with a person you were not married to.  The sexual revolution is a dark sacrament, and we do not partake.

Comments (23)
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July 07th, 2017 05:22:00
23 comments

G.
July 7, 2017

Political correctness is a dark sacrament. Lies are the easiest and most perverse of perversions.


John Mansfield
July 7, 2017

Much of liberal Mormon writing is a reenactment of Moses 5:12-13, with the writer playing the role of Satan.

“Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters. And Satan came among them, saying: I am also a son of God; and he commanded them, saying: Believe it not.”

“Elder So-and-so said such-and-such. Well, he [like Adam] is just a man. Listen to me tell what he should have said.”


Agellius
July 7, 2017

“Conventional Christians probably see our belief that God has a body and that He aims to exalt us as a blasphemous, transgressive dark sacrament.”

I would say the essence of it is not the exalting of us, since we agree that we will be exalted (Mt. 23:12), but the notion of God ever having been like us and of us being like, i.e. equal to, God.


Bookslinger
July 7, 2017

I had forgotten that scene in That Hideous Strength. (The character was Studdock, btw.)

Your reference reminded me of a recent story where a college prof, following the lesson plan of a textbook, asked students to do basically the same thing.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/03/26/fau-college-student-who-didnt-want-to-stomp-on-jesus-runs-afoul-of-speech-code/

The student was suspended from the class, not for refusing to comply, but for complaining to the administration about it.


Vader
July 7, 2017

“I would say the essence of it is not the exalting of us, since we agree that we will be exalted (Mt. 23:12), but the notion of God ever having been like us and of us being like, i.e. equal to, God.”

The funny thing is, I cannot find an iota of Mormon scripture that suggests we will become equal to God. I do not myself believe this. We may become gods, small “g”, but He remains God with a capital “G”.

And if you retort that a lot of Mormons seem to think equality is implied, I can only face-palm and admit that a lot of Mormons have folk beliefs at odds with what our scriptures actually say or don’t say.


Sift Green
July 7, 2017

Vader, I would say that your right. After all, when I finally get married and have kids my Dad won’t stop being a Dad: he will be a Granddad. I will not become my father’s equal by virtue of reaching where he is now, because my reaching that point will only make my dad grander.

So operating under the assumption that we will one day reach the same place that God is now we will still not be his equals, because by the time we reach that point he will be beyond it. This should not surprise us, as eternal life is frequently referred to as etherial progression after all.

Also, we must remember that if I successfully become a Father it will do nothing to change the fact that my dad is my Father, and therefore is someone I must respect and honor. The same is true with the spiritual; if I successfully become a god it will do nothing to change the fact that the God of Abraham is my God, and is therefore someone who I must respect and worship.

I could probably ride this train of thought for hours, so I stop now an let you get back to your day.


seriouslypleasedropit
July 8, 2017

I was going to say Agellius, I’d have expected a more nuanced understanding of the “e” word from a patron of this blog. 🙂


MC
July 8, 2017

“Does Mormonism have any ‘dark sacraments?'”

Maybe not Mormonism proper, but I imagine that for a few greenie missionaries, the first time they were introduced to the concept of “Baseball Baptisms” must have thought, “Oh, so THIS is how missionary work is done.”


Vader
July 8, 2017

Perhaps I shouldn’t answer for Agellius, but I suspect his understanding is nuanced. He correctly suggests that other non-Mormon Christians do not have so nuanced an understanding.


Wm Jas
July 8, 2017

Is the “e-word” exaltation or equality?


seriouslypleasedropit
July 8, 2017

Equality. And yes…Vader’s right. I misread the comment.


Zen
July 9, 2017

I have had this feeling about some of the alt-Right, but this clearly explains what is going on with them. Part of it is a correct refutation of political correctness, but then taken to unhealthy extremes.

Folk wisdom to the contrary, The enemy of my enemy isn’t necessarily any kind of friend to me.


Ivan Wolfe
July 9, 2017

Going off the “baseball baptisms” comment above, in my mission there were plenty of Dark Sacraments among the more “apostate” (to use their own terminology) missionaries – usually with small things like breaking minor mission rules, but eventually leading to more and more extreme things (this culminated in an incident where several missionaries broke into the APs apartment and poured chocolate syrup over their garments).

My refusal to go along resulted in a few missionaries threatening to “destroy” me with the mission president, since they were zone leaders and such. Never happened, though (what did happen was that I got a reputation as a hard worker and obedient elders, so the mission president decided to send me the most apostate missionaries so I would “give them a chance to actually experience work before going home” – this, combined with my lack of social or leadership skills made my mission a living hell).

I was out before “raise the bar” – my understanding is this kind of problem is somewhat reduced.


Agellius
July 10, 2017

Vader:

Thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt. : )

Anyway, maybe not in the scriptures, but there is the Lorenzo Snow saying, “As God now is, man may be.” I realize this isn’t dogma in the Catholic sense. Also it doesn’t go into detail regarding the precise ways, and the extent to which we will be “as God now is”. So I personally have an open mind about what the Church teaches on this issue. But a lot of non-Mormon Christians take it at face value.

Sift Green, above, seems to do the same. What he says implies that we may indeed one day be as God is now, which seems to imply equality with what God is now — even if by that time God has moved on. So yes, we’re eternally “behind” God in terms of eternal progress, but we may reach the point where God is presently. And that alone is a big problem for a lot of non-Mormon Christians.

Not that it would be bad for us to be as “good” as God, but the whole idea that God became as he is by way of a process, and will move on to become even better, is problematic since we believe he already possesses every perfection and therefore can’t get any better, mightier, smarter, holier, etc., regardless of whether we ever catch up with him. In other words if he gains things later, that implies that he lacks things now, which is anathema.

I’m not debating who’s right, just trying to state the disagreement accurately. Also I don’t think of these beliefs, to the extent they are held by individual Mormons, as “dark sacraments”. But if they are not what the Church officially believes, then I wonder if some Mormons themselves do think of them that way(?). (BTW, some traditionalist Catholics hold beliefs that I would consider dark sacraments, for example that all non-Catholics are damned, period.)


Vader
July 10, 2017

I think the idea is that God does, in fact, increase. His increase does not come from becoming more holy or intelligent or mighty, inasmuch as He is already fully holy, intelligent, and mighty. His increase comes via our increase.


Ivan Wolfe
July 10, 2017

C.S. Lewis: “Of all the passions the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things.”

http://www.mit.edu/~hooman/ideas/the_inner_ring.htm


Agellius
July 10, 2017

Vader:

Is it your view that we may become like God is now, in terms of his nature — his level of holiness, intelligence and might — but can never equal his level of increase in terms of the glory that comes via his offspring? Or would you say that we will we never match him in terms of his nature either?

I’m just curious, not trying to pin you down.


Zen
July 10, 2017

I can’t speak for Vader, but for the most part, the scriptures don’t clarify the idea of equality.


T. Greer
July 10, 2017

i would submit.that for.something to be a real “dark sacrement” it must be seen as transgressive by everyone involved.

Niether political correctness nor Mormon orthodoxy would count under this metric. The East Asian practice of visiting.prostitutes with your boss certainly would though. Key to the practice is guilt or shame–either mutual culpability in the case of secret sacrements, or public display that one is beyond guilt and shame entirely. No guilt or shame, then no transgression made.


Zen
July 10, 2017

I don’t think it has to be transgressive for the majority, as long as it is transgressive against a group the initiate had a choice of joining. It is a dark baptism, or an anti-baptism. It sets you apart as a member of a group, and NOT a member of certain other groups.


Vader
July 11, 2017

Agellius,

Zen got it right. I simply don’t know yet.

We are told that we are to be one with Christ as Christ is one with the Father, which implies at least great similarity in the godly virtues. On the other hand, we are told we are branches of God’s vine, with the implication of lasting dependence.


Vader
July 11, 2017

I find myself thinking of C.S. Lewis’ remark that, if any of us truly saw one of our neighbors as he had the potential to become, we would be very tempted to bow and worship. I think that’s right, but I also think the reaction might be different if the Father or the Son was standing next to them at the time.


Agellius
July 11, 2017

Vader:

Thanks.

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