Okay everyone. I’m going to wander into crazy town while on this post. I’m not taking a position, but rather, thinking out loud so a few of my trusted friends can read this and talk with me about it. If you didn’t bring your waders today, you should probably not read this.
“You can stake that claim, good work is the key to good fortune. Winners take that praise, losers seldom take that blame”. – Neil Peart, “Roll The Bones”
Sports fans are funny. Listen to them talk about the last big game their favorite team played. If the team won, the pronoun will be 1st person: “We won!” If the team lost, it will be in the 3rd person: “They played so poorly.” It is human nature to want to take personal credit for success, and displace responsibility for failure.
Go deep with me for a second. There are probably things in your life you feel like shit about. Most of us have some event that we were involved in, that ended very poorly. I certainly do. There are bad things in my past that I still crucify myself over, even though a) it was an accident, and b) I’ve done my best to make it right. Do you have anything similar?
To paraphrase my friend Jake – “The mythology of Mormonism is really interesting. The structure of the church, I have some problems with…”
Allow me to put on my mormon hat for a moment:
In LDS mythology, before the creation of the Earth, all the spirits that would potentially inhabit the earth gathered to discuss how to make the next step forward in becoming more like their creator, God the Father. A mortal existence, complete with all of it’s messiness and quandaries, was deemed a necessary learning stage. The Earth was created. God understood that we would need some help sorting things out. Two of the most advanced spirits emerged as candidates to come to Earth and help the human family.
One said he would come down and keep everyone on track. His idea was to essentially force everyone to make the “right” choices. He did not plan on giving any credit to the boss / creator of this whole situation; He wanted all of the credit and glory for getting the job done correctly. This character is known as Lucifer.
Another similarly advanced spirit proposed another option: everyone would be born into Earth life. The “right” answers would not be forced upon anyone. All spirits would be given agency to do whatever they please. He would come down amidst the resulting chaos and try to offer some guidance. Ultimately, it would be up to everyone to decide for themselves what they wanted to do. Some would make better choices than others. For those that DID make “good” choices resulting in spiritual progression, this character did not intend on taking any credit. He would just pass that glory along to God, the Father. His ego was not caught up in the process. He recognized that his is a separate being from everyone else, and that no matter how helpful he was, ULTIMATELY, he cannot control anyone. And therefore he should not take credit for anyone’s good, or bad, decisions.
What would motivate such a stance? Maybe he thought, “Well, God, you made them. If it goes well, YOU get the credit. If it doesn’t, it’s still your problem, and I’ll try to help out with that, but ultimately, it’s still not my problem. I’ll go down and help out as much as I can, but ultimately this is YOUR gig.”
The legend goes, that this person ends up making a huge sacrifice for and in behalf of everyone who ended up needing help. But why would he do this? Because he really loved everyone that much? The only people who insist on telling this story, also happen to have a collection plate circulating around as they tell the story. It’s rare to hear anyone tell the story that doesn’t have some kind of financial connection to it, along with a claim to having some authority as a gatekeeper to this good grace that was given. Show me the people who tell this story and also have zero financial interest in it, and I’ll listen.
Oh yeah. This aforementioned person is commonly referred to as Jesus Christ.
At this stage, this mythology is interesting to me because at it’s root, it is about human pride, and suggests that it is an impediment to learning, growing, and progressing to become more powerful and more like God that created us all.
Again, paraphrasing my friend Jake: “Taking credit for all of the good things that we do is a sin of pride. Taking credit for all of the bad things that we do, is a sin of pride.”
….aaaaand this is the part where I get stuck. I get confused with the supposed virtue of taking responsibility for my actions, vs this idea that insisting on taking credit for them is a sin of pride.
Am I just too proud to accept help?
Is “pride” really just a false belief that I don’t deserve help? That I’m not worthy of help? Because many times in life, I have a hard time accepting help, whether it be help in getting dinner ready, financial help from my parents, etc. Is it the same reason that I sometimes have a hard time accepting compliments? Is it really just a deep rooted disdain for my core essence? **
And if God really did create me – and I think so poorly of myself – I’m really just insulting the chef, ya know?
Insulting the chef is shitty manners.
Maybe Jesus came here just to teach us some manners….
…to give glory to The Father.
Because if there is a God, and if that God is our father / creator, it would behoove you and I to just calm the fuck down and accept his help, because that guy is LOADED.
Maybe God is like the ultimate rich uncle, and Jesus is like our attorney that is trying to talk some sense into us, so that we’ll stop refusing his help.
Is that all this is? Part of me thinks that this whole God / Jesus thing may really be that simple.
** I’d like to thank all of my primary teachers, sunday school teachers, scout leaders, seminary teachers, my parents, my grandparents, thousands of sacrament meeting speakers, and a lot of the mainstream media for instilling this belief that I’m inherently flawed. Truly, I couldn’t have done it without you. And maybe this is part of the reason I need to calm the fuck down and let myself off the hook.
Maybe we as humans NEED a myth that is larger than life to belief in, in order to transcend the very forces that brought us into physical existence, fed us, raised us, and are almost wholly responsible for who we are today. This isn’t to say that Jesus is or isn’t real… I’m just considering if Jesus is USEFUL.