Catholics, Mormons, and Stephen Crane

My Organized Response to an LDS Missionary

Chapter 9 - Money in the Bank

July 2001


LIV

"It was wrong to do this," said the angel.
"You should live like a flower,
Holding malice like a puppy,
Waging war like a lambkin."
"Not so," quoth the man
Who had no fear of spirits;
"It is only wrong for angels
Who can live like the flowers,
Holding malice like the puppies,
Waging war like the lambkins."

Stephen Crane:Black Riders #54

Also, when I was sharing my personal theology, you took the reference to my favorite biblical lesson out of context. I hold up as the personal role model for my life not Jesus (who I obviously cannot be) but the Roman Centurion He encountered on the way to Jerusalem. I do not know which book, chapter, or verse, but have read the story many times and know it best as the scene with Ernest Borgnine from "King of Kings".

While Jesus is healing the lame, curing lepers and raising the dead, the Centurion accosts him to heal a servant back at his home. Jesus rises to follow him (no doubt thinking about the good publicity) but the Centurion stops him. "It is not necessary that you come to my home, only to say that my servant is healed. I have many soldiers in my command and I tell one to do this and another to do that. I do not need to go to see that such a thing is done. I need only say so and know that it will be so. Jesus, you do not need to come to my house, only say that my servant will be healed and I will leave you."

Jesus is delighted. In the movie his eye twinkles and an honest grin appears on his face. In my mind's eye as I read that story, I can feel His delight that a sworn arch enemy, a mid-level officer of an occupying army from a pagan culture, has more true faith than any avowed pilgrim present. Jesus says the servant is healed, but first compliments the Centurion, declaring the unquestioned and unwitnessed belief to be "faith".

My search for personal religious grounding essentially ended when I understood the significance of that particular story.

I do not expect to understand how Jesus thinks or acts. I do not need to grab His sleeve and drag Him off to do my bidding. I expect that since He can raise the dead and heal the lame, then He sure as heck can fix anything that is wrong with my life if He takes a hankering to do so. Why should I lay out my list of wants and needs to a being that "knows how many hairs are on my head" and knows what I need even "before I know"? Why should I be the one to judge whether He prefers that I do this thing or that? When Jesus is pitching, I'm not going to be the one calling balls and strikes.

If God is everywhere and knows everything (as my nuns taught me), then He surely doesn't need my advice. If He has a plan, let me stay out of His divine way. And if He doesn't have a plan, well, I'll drive for now but I'll certainly let Him to grab the steering wheel out of my hands anytime He wants.

Like that Centurion, I do not need to see, to hear, or to "feel" God's acknowledgment. That is a manifestation of man's vanity: the desire, the expectation, the childish greed to become a "living prophet" and ring up God on the telephone. Fundamentalists, LDS Missionaries, and that little eight year old Methodist have all given into this worldly temptation. Have you? The LDS church systematically holds out this expectation to its young like a fish held out for a trained seal. And the flock perform rituals just like those at Sea World.

We talked about the "footprints in the sand" poem (another of my favorites) but it is my impression that it is somehow necessary for you, in that situation, to physically sense the allegorical arms beneath you. Like the Centurion, I accept that allegory as a given; that in my hour of need I will be carried. I neither need to specify which hour or verify that I was. Many people mistake my deep quiet faith to be spiritual isolation or spiritual loneliness. This is particularly dangerous for me as those are two very specific personality traits that LDS missionaries are trained to identify and exploit in their targets.

It is like the difference between a man that has his money converted to coins to be carried about with him in sacks, and another that simply deposits his money in a bank. The first man (like a child) satisfies a juvenile need to have material, corporeal, palpable sensation of his wealth (with physical feedback of weight and jingling) while the second man is satisfied with the adult intellectual knowledge (faith, if you will) of the presence and value of his riches. And a truly wealthy man doesn't need to consult or even to locate his bankbook.

Like that Centurion, I choose to follow Jesus' advice to me (and to you, if you stop and think about it). Jesus told us to simply say to his Father, "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven". He didn't say to go into the woods and shout "send me a sign" to the treetops. He didn't say to concentrate on an issue real hard until you experience a physical manifestation (a very tangible human man dreamed up that litmus test). Jesus didn't teach us to make sure that you say God bless Gramma and God bless Grampa and get me a new pony for my birthday. No, all of that crap is the invention of man's mind. Jesus told us to act like the Centurion. Allow God complete access to our lives, do His will, and keep the hell out of His way. When He wants something out of you, He will send it your way; whether His will is a winning Lotto ticket or a bolt of lighting, the appearance of a cancerous tumor or the spontaneous remission of the same. God is, after all, God. He neither consulted with or divulged to me what His plan is, and it is my belief that he didn't tell you or Joseph Smith either. That ridiculous assertion is simply man's vanity and natural human greed to be recognized as a "living prophet". Only a child, or a fool, would follow that doctrine to find faith.

This is my simple belief based on biblical teaching, and how I try to lead my life every day. I was trying so hard to explain that to you.

 

Copyright, 2001, All rights reserved

Chapter 8 Return to Main Page Chapter 10

Introduction & Background

7.

I'm Right and They're Wrong

1.

Serene Futility

8.

Under Duress

2.

Damning Hypocrisy

9.

Money in the Bank

3.

Institutional Corruption

10.

The Carrot and the Stick

4.

God's Voice

11.

Heaven Must Be Laughing

5.

"All Religions are Corrupt"

12.

God the Bouncer

6.

Sealed with Chains

13.

Unlock the Temple Doors

Catholic & Mormon Links Page




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