“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” – G.K. Chesterton

Posts tagged “Religion and Spirituality

Self-Proclaimed Righteousness

This summer I will be writing an essay explaining the Christian themes within the Harry Potter series. I was doing some research and I stumbled upon a website called “Accio Quote.” It is dedicated to quotes that have anything and everything to do with Harry Potter. I found hundreds of quotes by Rowling herself – in particular, religious quotes. One stood out in my mind. – “It is perfectly possible to live a very moral life without a belief in God, and I think it’s perfectly possible to live a life peppered with ill-doing and believe in God.”

I had been thinking about this concept for a few days before I saw the quote. On Monday, for some reason, I think God wanted me to learn a bit about Mormonism. I was surfing through the channels on TV. Three networks (TLC, Lifetime, and the History Channel) were broadcasting shows about Mormonism at the same time! I kept flipping back and forth between the three networks and I decided that the documentary about the history of Mormonism on the History Channel was most interesting. What I saw got me thinking… Joseph Smith, Jr. was the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement – predominant theology Mormonism. Within the first decade, he preached the same practices, however after ten years he decided to take multiple wives. This bore confusion among his followers because it happened so suddenly. Joseph Smith, Jr. claimed that God told him it was his duty to take multiple wives. After that, the church split. People were torn between believing Smith’s new concept of polygyny and following the old ways of Mormonism. This didn’t sit well with me. I could be wrong, but what if Smith made it up in order to get what he wanted? I have a really big problem with people who use God as an excuse to justify something that is morally wrong… But who knows? Maybe he did in fact have a revelation. I’m not him and I’m not God.

This is what really got me. On Tuesday, when I got home from work, there was an article on CNN about Elizabeth Smart. She had testified against her culprit. I didn’t really know the full story before then. Apparently, when Smart was 14, she was abducted by a man named Brian Mitchell. He held her at knife point, forced her to become his plural “wife” and raped her every single day during the nine months she was held captive. He had a self-proclaimed calling as a prophet of God and called himself “Emmanuel.” He also claimed to receive revelations from God and then acted out according to what he was told by those revelations. Others testified that Mitchell used these so called revelations only to manipulate others and for self gratification. In my opinion, by claiming to be a prophet, he was putting himself on par with Jesus or God which is one step below believing he was God. According to C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, this is pure pride. St. Augustine wrote, “Pride is the commencement of all sin because it was this which overthrew the devil, from whom arose the origin of sin; and afterwards, when his malice and envy pursued man, who was yet standing in his uprightness, it subverted him in the same way in which he himself fell.” Think about it. Every other sin derives from pride. Murder, adultery, rape – putting yourself above the other person. I hope that I am not right, but I think there might be a special place in Hell for someone who uses religion as a way to do all the wrong things and claim they are just.