Catholics, Mormons, and Stephen Crane

My Organized Response to an LDS Missionary

Chapter 7 - I'm Right and They're Wrong

July 2001


"Truth," said a traveler,
"Is a rock, a mighty fortress;
Often have I been to it,
Even to its highest tower,
From whence the world looks black."

"Truth," said a traveler,
"Is a breath, a wind,
A shadow, a phantom;
Long have I pursued it,
But never have I touched
The hem of its garment."

And I believed the second traveler;
For truth was to me
A breath, a wind,
A shadow, a phantom,
And never had I touched
The hem of its garment.

Stephen Crane:Black Riders #28

What is God's purpose for us? Is the Bible "wrong"?

The bible is supposed to be divine revelation to man. Have you read much of its history? It is a collected anthology from scores of writers spanning dozens of centuries (literally hundreds of human generations). Thousands of very real, very human people had to carry and deliver parts and portions of its message. It has been organized and edited, converted and appended, blended and translated, using the exact same corrupt processes that brought us the Spanish Inquisition (and the Crucifixion in the first place) and that now deliver to us TV commercial jingles and pulp dimestore novels. I do not doubt that certain authors had certain temporal experiences that either actually were or could be attributed to divine inspiration. But who can tell? That little eight year old Methodist that talked to Jesus, the one going to Honduras to square off with some Mormon missionary in the contest to convert the huddled masses to the "right" Jesus, heard the same message on the same telephone. If you ask man to validate his experience, you get the validation of man.

I do not doubt that most of the authors were sincere. But what about the first several hundred years while it was passed on verbally? What about the first scribes, and the transcribers, and translators? What about the conferences and the rewrites? Who was King James and why was he so important? Why two creation stories and entire tracks lifted from Babylonian mythology?

All in all, the bible is a great work of spiritual inspiration, but only the most zealous nonthinking adherent would dare call it literal prophesy. Why not Nostradomus? And why not Mohommad and Confucious? I agree with Joseph Smith, it is the literal word of God (as far as it is translated correctly). Unfortunately for him, I also apply that very same measurement to the other, latter day, testaments to Jesus.

I look to Biblical stories as lesson on how to lead a good life, not on the "secret handshakes" and "secret garments" to receive eternal bliss. That is so obviously a folly of man! How dare somebody attempt to tie God's hands as to who is or is not allowed into one of His many mansions? It seems all too convenient to me.

Jesus' lessons were simple. It is the old testament, and the book of revelation, and certainly the new books "discovered" (or "interpreted", or "made up out of thin air", depending on who you believe) by Joseph Smith that seem so completely silly. Do they stress living a simple life and respecting others? Then why are they even necessary? Do they list and delineate more quixotic begets and wars and apparitions and history? Aren't there enough of those stories already? Do they specify elaborate rites to achieve salvation? Why would anybody believe such poppycock (and then go door to door peddling it)?

Does not the old testament dictate the eating of Kosher meals? Why do Mormons and Catholics eat milk with meat? Is that ritual too inconvenient to follow or was that particular Biblical section repealed when Joseph was told that "all current religions are wrong"? Which other Bible sections were repealed and which are still in effect? I bet I'm supposed to ask the "living prophet".

And what exactly would the "God of Hill Cummorah" (whoever that was) say to a simple farm boy that walked into the very same woods and asked the very same question today? Would that God say that the modern day LDS church (not the RLDS from Missouri, mind you, only the Mormons headquartered in Salt Lake City!) has the only true revelation and restoration? Why not the "other" Mormons? Why not the Catholics or the Universalists or the Presbyterians? What was so special about the lineage from Joseph Smith to Brigham Young that does not apply to the ones from John Wesley or the ones through the Byzantine or Orthodox popes?

Well of course, the "living prophet" was told so and reveals his "revelation" unto us. Well, I mean, THIS "living prophet" which had THIS apparition (which is holy and sacrosanct) but THAT "living prophet" which had THAT OTHER apparition is a tool of Satan. I'm sorry, I've lost my place, which one is which again?

It seems that an entire church has been built upon on a man emerging from a stand of trees and shouting the theological equivalent of "last one in's a rotten egg". Joseph Smith claimed "bottlecaps" that day and therefore gets first dibbies on Jesus, and the Melchizedek priesthood? The fundamentals seem to include "Blind man's bluff" and "I'm rubber and you're glue", too. And be careful if you defend his particular claim as sacrosanct, because many men have come after Joseph Smith (including the nefarious Jim Jones, the Scientologists, and the leader of the San Diego doomsday cult) and each has said that HE was contacted by God and it was revealed to HIM that ALL religions before HIS were corrupt and wrong and the HE was the "living prophet" and restorer of God's lineage.

Obviously, these are all the words of men, not God. Why must you accept that 99.9% of these proclaimers are false prophets, when 100% seems closer to the mark?

And what was it that made those religious institutions so "corrupt" that long ago day on Hill Cummorah? And what is so different between what they were then and what the Multi-Billion dollar institution called the Salt Lake City LDS church is today? It can't be about helping the less fortunate, for they both did that. It can't be about vigorously preaching divine revelation, for they both do that too. Is it that one church as the "right" secret rituals and the other has the "wrong" ones? Is it that only one knows the secret combination to the giant padlock that God keeps on the gates of heaven to keep the rest of us riffraff out? That is the one single fact that everybody can agree upon. Like the old joke about the elevator in heaven, each Christian sect wishes to spend eternity content in the knowledge that they possess the only floor in God's massive mansion.

If the Catholics and Methodists and Christian Scientists were so evil in the 1850's, I submit that the current day Mormons are neither more-so nor less-so today. As I said, and I believe the apparition of Moroni concurred, it is the corruption underlying man's religious institutions (not God's) that poisons organized religion. Money corrupts, power corrupts, adulation corrupts and besides, PT Barnum was right; there IS a sucker born every minute. The followers of a "living prophet" would be the last people in the world qualified to judge his authenticity. Although they would barely nose out that same prophet's venomous detractors as the worst source of an honest assessment of the man.


Copyright, 2001, All rights reserved

Chapter 6 Return to Main Page Chapter 8

Introduction & Background


I'm Right and They're Wrong


Serene Futility


Under Duress


Damning Hypocrisy


Money in the Bank


Institutional Corruption


The Carrot and the Stick


God's Voice


Heaven Must Be Laughing


"All Religions are Corrupt"


God the Bouncer


Sealed with Chains


Unlock the Temple Doors

Catholic & Mormon Links Page

Originally Written: April 2001
First Upload: July 2001
Last Update: November 4, 2001