May 21, 2013
John poses the question: Is the Mormon God a Narcissistic Psychopath? with Pam, Toby, Richard and Randy.
Podcast: Play in new window
Loved this one
Fantastic podcast! Utterly blasphemous. Can someone tell me the name of the book John mentioned that is an analysis of brainwashing?
I think it was: The Manipulated Mind
Perhaps the Mormon god’s psychopathy is most plainly evident in Joseph Smith’s “restored” Book of Moses.
In Moses 7:28 – which Terryl and Fionna Givens drew inspiration for the title of their recent book, The God Who Weeps – we find God crying over his creation for not getting along with each other and not “choosing” him.
“And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon
the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore
record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and
shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?”
Now, the Givens’s aim was to put a positive spin on their Mormon deity – painting him as an emotionally vulnerable loving god. However, it is hardly clear from the context of this scripture that this is the right interpretation.
Consider how He violently transitions from weeping to lashing out with a “fire” of “indignation”, “hot displeasure”, and “fierce anger” (Moses 7:34). Consider how this leads to his cursing an entire people with black skin (7:8, 7:12, 7:22), sending a genocidal flood (7:38), building a post-mortal prison equipped with “chains of darkness” (7:57), and thereafter covering the earth with a veil of darkness (Moses 7:61).
Whoa! Seems these tears are tears of narcissistic rage.
Now, this is not some OT/NT omni-being stripped bare of his “plain and precious parts.” No sir. This is the bona fide “tantrum-throwing two-year old” Mormon god of the purest “radical back-wooded and halfwitted” modern Mormon revelation!
Spot fucking on. Wish I’d read that in preparation for the podcast.
It appears crucifixion sparked another psychotic episode across the pond.
3 Nephi 8:
2 – And now it came to pass, if there was no mistake made by this man … in the thirty and third year …
[Must be true, cause it says so right here]
5 … in the first month, on the fourth day … there arose a great storm
8 – And the city of Zarahemla did take fire.
9 – And the city of Moroni did sink into the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof were drowned.
11 – And there was a great and terrible destruction in the land southward.
12 – [and] … more … in the land northward;
25 – And in another place they were heard to cry and mourn, saying: O that we had repented before this great and terrible day, and had not killed and stoned the prophets, and cast them out; then would our mothers and our fair daughters, and our children have been spared
[But he spared the wicked stone-throwing fathers?]
3 Nephi 9
1 – And it came to pass that there was a voice heard – [that be Jesus] – upon all the face of this land …
3 – Behold, that great city Zarahemla have I burned with fire, and the inhabitants thereof.
4 – And behold, that great city Moroni have I caused to be sunk in the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof to be drowned.
5-12 [ variations of " I killed, and killed, and killed some more] …
13 – O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me,… that I may heal you?
14 – Yea, verily … if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy …
“I know the Book of Mormon is true”
Wow JT. As a believer, these verses were so inspiring from the standpoint of kick ass Jesus exacting revenge on the asshole rebellious Nephites. Now it just repulses me as a violent psychopathic god shows what happens when you don’t worship him
Yes, isn’t that sobering? In my case I can’t remember such things provoking much of any response, which is also symptomatic of my life in that bubble.
Aren’t paradigm shifts wonderful things? I wonder if another lies ahead before I die. If it is as good as this one, I can only hope. Let’s keep our eyes open, eh?
Here is another scripture chase winner for the topic: Psychopathic Mormon god.
10 – And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the apower of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.
11 – But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing … that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.
Pam, that was an excellent point you made about Joseph creating his a god in his own narcissistic image. Of course, he also invited himself and his friends to join that club.
This reminds me of a documentary I saw a couple of years ago – The Corporation – which criticizes corporate business practices showing how they are compelled to behave in ways that line up with the DSM-IV’s symptoms of psychopathy.
Perhaps the legacy of Joseph Smith’s theology is an institution with an emergent narcissistic personality disorder. Just like a corporation’s psychopathic behavior arises from the legal fiduciary obligations of its officers, the Mormon Church’s narcissistic character emerges from its doctrines as they are implemented through in countless little obedient acts by largely innocent and well meaning church members (institutional units). Joseph created a God in his own image and that image generated an in-group whose emergent narcissism can be construed as a virtue.
When you all say that you would not call any of the ga’s psychopath how would you know? It seems to me that the GA’s are very carefully marketed to us. They are rock stars. We don’t see who they really are. Years ago a story about the 12 eating chocolates, light or dark was being spread around the church. As a result a letter from the brethren was read in all wards that stories that ga’s tell in local setting people are not to retell, unless the church publishes it. The church does not want us to see these men as human. They want to control the brethren’s image.
I think you make a good point. It triggered the following thoughts.
When I flip through the General Conference Ensign – or the on-line videos – the GAs now appear as interchangeable automatons speaking computer-generated sermons stitched together with scriptural snippets and formulaic stories that are as flat as the arbitrary first names stuck on the characters. From what I gather, faithful members are left to relish superficial personality differences – perhaps because these are the only remaining fragments of their authentic humanity they unconsciously crave.
OK, this is hyperbolic. And yet I suspect this melding of individual and institution is a central attribute church leaders – and scales with a rank-and-file members’ orthodoxy and devotion. It might also account for how mentally healthy autonomous individuals can acquire – and contribute to – a group-level psychopathology that, by its very nature, is experienced as normal. Notice also that within this psychodynamic framework Church devotion becomes self-devotion and – presto – God-sanctioned narcissism. No real news here – it relates to the recent North Korea episode.
It was the discomfort of an encroaching group-personality that instigated my disaffection. When I joined the Church at 19, my East Coast college and graduate schools provided a buffer. I was preoccupied with my engineering studies and somehow I declined a mission challenge without ostracism. But when I finally landed in the full-frontal Church-world of callings, etc, I felt that invasion. And at age 25 the temple experience set off major alarms.
So, are the GAs psychopaths? Perhaps only to the degree that (1) their self-identities are subsumed by the group and (2) the group is psychopathic.
While I see psychopathy in the Book of Mormon god (e.g. Moses 7, 3 Nephi 8&9, Alma 14:10-11), it seems a stretch to pin it on the Church or its GA spokes-units. Their strategies are rationally self-interested – they respond to public opinion – they haven’t gone “Westboro Baptist.” But that doesn’t mean the propensity isn’t there – that they wouldn’t fly valiantly “off the rails” if sufficiently threatened. The Church’s response to Prop 8 gave off such an odor and it came close several times in its history. It would be hard to argue against the claim that it was only a matter of chance that the Church survived those episodes.
I’m no expert on the social psychology that deals with this sort of thing other than reading about the classic Milgram and Zimbardo studies, and Eric Fromm’s Escape From Freedom. But it must be out there. Your post motivated me to begin looking. One paper I found provides a framework for thinking about the Church as a “psychological group” and those attributes that prevent its “learning” . Here is a key passage:
“Our argument is this: an individual is motivated to preserve/defend his or her personal identity through an individual-level need for self-esteem. Like individuals, the psychological group and organization seek to maintain self-esteem, and this generally means acting conservatively to preserve an existing identity. Organizational learning can require that individuals be prepared to challenge the group’s or organization’s identity. Indeed, learning may become more problematic to the extent that individuals and groups subsume the individual identity in that of the group or organization and see themselves as representative of that social category.”
In any case, I find all this as fascinating as – I must admit – speculative.
 Brown, Andrew D. and Starkey, Ken, ORGANIZATIONAL IDENTITY AND LEARNING: A PSYCHODYNAMIC PERSPECTIVE, Academy of Management Review 2000, Vol. 25, No. 1, 102-120. [http://www.jstor.org/stable/259265]
John Larsen, A great anecdote to what you were concerned would be ‘too offensive’ about torturers and child molesters victim-blaming is the pedophile Catholic Priests. In the documentary Magnum Cum Laude (released just before Benedict resigned), more than one priest confessed that their justification for molesting the boys was that the boys had innate sexual cravings anyway, so by them (Priests) taking care of the boys sexual desires, it inoculated them and made them less sinful because a vessel of God had taken care of the urge for them. If that’s not psychopathic behavior, I don’t know what is.
In the office next to me, is a church. Currently, they are having VBS (Vacation Bible School). This is what is playing in my office. Thank you.
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