Thursday, August 13, 2009

Slate asks: The Catholic Church helped preserve Roman civilization. Can Mormonism do the same for America?

Wow. It amazes me that this question would even be asked, especially by Slate magazine.

The Catholic Church helped preserve Roman civilization. Can Mormonism do the same for America? - By Josh Levin - Slate Magazine

There's a stronger case to be made that the Christians kept Rome from being erased from our collective memory—that the Catholic Church was the one entity that maintained Roman hierarchies, Roman thought, and the Latin language as the rest of the continent descended into illiteracy.

A religion is also a good candidate to keep America alive. The history of Catholicism shows that religious movements can outlast the political systems in which they arose. Our idealized conception of what America stands for has its origins in religious belief as well: the Puritans' values of industry and self-reliance, and their desire for the nation to be a "city upon a hill."

What religion might serve as America's preservationist? In the 1960 novel A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller Jr. imagines a group of monks playing the same role as their European forebears, preserving knowledge in a post-apocalyptic America. Considering this country's microscopic monk supply, it's hard to imagine monasteries banding together to combat data rot. Evangelical Christians seem like a more logical contender: Around 100 million Americans identify as evangelicals, and the idea of the United States as a promised land is pervasive in evangelical thought. But while they're often thought of as a homogeneous bloc, evangelicals are really a diverse and fragmented lot. That makes the movement resilient and adaptable but not exactly the best vessel for preserving a culture. The early Catholic Church, in contrast, was more disciplined and hierarchical, a far better candidate both to survive a collapse and to carry forward societal traditions.

A better candidate to serve as America's time capsule: the Mormons. In an aside in 2007's Are We Rome?, Cullen Murphy posits that Salt Lake City could become "the Vatican of the third millennium," with the Mormon Church "propagating a particular, canonical version of America."


At 8/13/2009 09:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's pretty...fair considering most of the stuff of this nature that gets published. They seem to really trust OSC, or maybe that's just the vibe I got.

The "Mormons are like us only they're on their best behavior all the time" comment really betrayed the writer's POV, too. It appears there are really only two states on the media's morality switch these days: on or off. There's a gray area there that, unsurprisingly, the media hesitate to venture into. One could start with Joseph Smith's candid observations about his own imperfection.

At 8/14/2009 06:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was shocked too when i read this The Slate Magazine is pretty liberal and Mormons have not fared to well on some of their articles. Actually it was one of the nicer things written about the church in a long time.

At 8/15/2009 01:37:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Positive vibe nonetheless, I was disturbed that they discovered our esoteric pre-millennial doctrine. I think we were trying to keep that secret at least since Ezra Taft Benson went dark in the seventies.

At 9/24/2009 12:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You people are not only arrogant, but sick and deluded!

I haven't seen this kind of Nationalism combined with religious dogma and fascist rhetoric since reading about Mussolini's Italy!

No, Mormonism can't save America; all it can do is destroy the principles of liberty upon which this great country was built!

At 9/24/2009 10:52:00 PM, Blogger Bookslinger said...

Anon at 9/24/2009 12:19:00 PM:

Neither I nor the 3 commenters agreed or disagreed with the article. Your insults and vitriol are more appropriate as comments where the original article appeared.

You also sound like an ex-Mormon with an axe to grind.


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