May 23, 2007

The Three Levels of Heaven

Personally, I can respect the LDS belief system just fine, and am glad that many people find comfort in the knowledge that they will enjoy having families and eternal glory in the Celestial Kingdom if/when they make it there. They have every right to believe this for themselves.

Here is why it can easily seem kind of strange to others. If I were to become a Goddess and follow God's example (as described in Mormon theology), here's what it would entail:

I buy a new house. I have four children, and the house has four bedrooms. Two of the bedrooms (one being the master bedroom) are located on the top floor of the house. I decorate my bedroom and the bedroom beside it in totally lavish decorations, the best money can buy. Large and comfortable couches, chairs, silks, lights everywhere, and a king sized bed for each of these rooms. Solid gold fixtures and beauty abounds. Walk-in closets and plenty of light and space and beauty. A special intercom connects the two rooms for constant communication, and I include a big double door that swings open to connect the two rooms whenever necessary. Togetherness abounds.

The third bedroom is found on the main level, and I decorate it tastefully, but spend an eighth of what I spent on the bedroom upstairs when I decorate it. It is comfortable but not great. Single bed. Desk with one wooden chair. It is comfortably large but rather sparse in furnishings. No phone or intercom to connect to other parts of the house.

The fourth bedroom is in the basement, and the lighting is bad in there, but I don't mind. I spend about 1/20 of what I spend on the upstairs rooms, and I furnish it with a single bed but no desk, chair, or lamp. It is a small room, just large enough to fit the bed and dresser, but nothing else. I don't include any extra lamps for light, and the window is small and near the ceiling. No phone or intercom to connect to the other parts of the house.

Then I sit down and decide of my four children, which one has been most obedient and followed to the letter all the things I outlined on my posted fridge chart of rules to live by, including bathing in my special pool and believing in my Special Ghost. That one is the one who gets the nice room upstairs with me. We play, live, and have a good ol' time up there every day, all day.

My child who was also obedient, and honorable, and had a testimony of the truthfulness of my charted plan, but failed to be valiant that one time after having taken the required bath in my special pool...may only ever be visited by The Chosen Son but not by me. Ever. He will live separately and singly forever in the room on the main level. I have no intention of visiting him.

The third child is the one who did not receive the testimony of The Chosen Son at all, and who refused to even look at my posted fridge chart of rules to live by. This is he who is a liar, a sorcerer, an adulterer, a whoremonger, and he who loves and makes a lie. He will only be visited by the Special Ghost I send, but never by The Chosen Son and never by me. He is grounded in the basement in semi-darkness alone for a thousand years, after which I will allow him to emerge, and only then will he be allowed a second chance.

The fourth child is the one who once had a testimony of my Special Ghost and Chosen Son, and was once as obedient and faithful as the first child...but instead of constantly following the fridge chart rules, one day thought about it and decided that he didn't believe that a Special Ghost gave him the good feelings he felt sometimes. He felt them when he heard the national anthem, or when he watched Anne of Green Gables, or when he heard Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. I knew he must be following the Evil One when he told me this, and I can allow no forgiveness for him, for he denied the Special Ghost after having received it when he was eight. He will live in eternal darkness, torment, and misery with the Evil One and his angels forever.

And this is precisely how I want it to be for all of my children I love equally.


Pompous One said...

Excellent summation of Kolob, the three degrees of glory, and Outer Darkness! Simply put, as you have, it sounds awfully silly and sad. I, too, have a hard time imagining God--cast as a loving father--would want any of us--cast as His children--sending any of us away like that. Or wanting that as the model for earthly parents.

And yet, sadly, that's the model that is given and that's the behavior even earthly Mormon parents engage in with some of their children. Having experienced that condemnation from my family, I can tell you, it ain't warm and fuzzy. And it isn't what I believe about God and who he/she is and who I am to him/her.

Pompous One said...

Okay, that first paragraph was poorly written...

What I was so inarticulately trying to say was, I can't imagine God would want any of us to be sent away like that.

There. That's better. Sorry about that!

Sideon said...

If Heaven is a multi-leveled parking structure, I will gladly pay a parking fine for being on the street instead of squeezing between two massive Excursions or dented Cadillacs or Hummers.

What people do and believe in the name of OBEDIENCE and blind faith blows my mind. Daily.

Robert said...

One word: oversimplified. Can't really say much else to describe it, SML. Believe it, though, as you please.

CV Rick said...

Robert's right. It's so oversimplified . . . because it's really all about magic and misdirection and that's complicated. Three levels of heaven, each of them divided into many more levels and many more tiers . . . and all of it designed to make you wish you'd been just a little more honorable, just a little more righteous, just a little more stick up the ass.

It's really only the bigots and judgmental thin-lipped scowlers who are going to win in the end.

No thanks, I'm not playing.

Great post, Lisa. Really nicely said.

Rebecca said...

I TOTALLY know what you mean by the Anne of Green Gables thing! I always thought it made me want to be a better person in a way the scriptures never did. Plus, not boring.

I'm PRETTY sure (although not, by any means, totally sure) that denying the spirit (or whatever - that thing is that gets you sent to Outer Darkness (insert ominous melodramatic music here)) can only be done by people who have a "certain knowledge" - like they've actually been visited by an angel or something. Not the "I know it's true" kind of stuff - more like the schizophrenic kind of stuff. People like you and me? We're going to that basement bedroom. Where we are going to knock down all the walls and redecorate and be all bohemian and AWESOME!

Anonymous said...


I think, as I have told you previously, that this is one of the best things that you have written. The notion of an omnipotent, merciful god who behaves in unmerciful ways has been, increasingly, an albatross around the neck of Biblical literalists for hundreds of years. As morality continues to evolve, the immoral characteristics of this concept of the deity stand in ever starker relief. Well-done my friend.

Bishop Rick said...

Not to mention that you are dropping your 4 children off at an adoption agency (no offense Sideon) (Damn, its always about Sideon) where statistically none of them will be adopted by Mormons (since we're only talking about 4 kids here) and its a total crap shoot if they will grow up with the right influences and have the chance to hear the "truth". Odds are not good for getting out of the basement.

Who came up with this plan? This is the worst plan I have ever heard of !

aka madre said...

Exactly! With the amount of love I feel for each of my children, no matter what their is incomprehensible to me that a truly loving Father and Mother could ostracize their children in that manner. And, as I told my tearful sister when she asked me to "repent" because she wants to live with me forever, "Aren't we taught that we will choose to be with people like ourselves...people we are comfortable with?" She answered, "Yes". I said, "Well, then I'll be fine. Because, I really like myself and I think I'm awesome! I hope I am with people like me!" She had no answer.

Well done, sml! love you! aka madre

Just one of many said...

Like tu madre said we stick with the people and things that make us comfortable! That is why most morg friends have bailed as well as family. I assume the believe the fumes of sulphur and brimstone eminating from our family will tip the scale in their salvation! You know the you affiliate with or support an apostate group?!?
Great post, BTW

Cele said...

Excellent post Lisa, and Madra great comments. I wish I could zing them off like that.

Darren said...

This God is a psychological manipulator.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Pomp, I'm so sorry you have had to endure the psychological effects of condemnation from your family. So unnecessary.

Sideon, but what kinda car will you have in your parking garage??

Robert, why would a loving Heavenly Father complicate matters so much that one must do mental gymnastics and twist theology into an unrecognizable pretzel in order to make it (somewhat) make sense? Shaking my head. Thanks for coming by, tho. I appreciate your friendship.

CV Rick, you make me laugh. Thanks for the comment.

Rebecca, I've heard that argument too. But it seems to me that I'm bound for Outer Darkness, no matter what, because I once had a testimony of the truth, and now I reject it as truth. I am practicing my teeth knashing as we speak.

Phaedrus, praise from you is heady praise indeed. Thank you.

Madre, I love you. Thank GAWD you are like you are. I wish I gave unconditional love as well as you do.

JOOM, their loss, sadly. Thanks for the compliment.

Cele, thanks. You are a good friend.

Darren, you got that right. And for the low price of only 10% of your gross earnings, you can become just like God too!

Sideon said...

Car? I'd drive a lime-green moped or BMW motorcycle, just to bug the hell out of everyone.


I love this post. You completely nailed it.

Success Warrior said...

You know the fun party is going to be in the basement. =)

Who wants to spend every hour with a parent that you had to suck up to just to get a nice bed?

Regina Filangi said...

Great post!! I can't believe I ever thought the whole degree of glory concept was so wonderful. Now I see it as just a very harsh way of seperating me from my family, if I don't toe the line.

Kullervo said...

The doctrine of Outer Darkness and Sons of Perdition is hilariously vague. Does it mean you're a Son of Perdition if you ever feel the Holy Ghost and then say you didn't? what about if you did it just one time, during an otherwise perfect Mormon life? This one time, you couldn't quite tell if it was the Special Ghost or if it was indigestion from Nachos, and you went with Nachos. And you were, like nine years old and had only had the Special Ghost for a year or so and were still getting used to it?

I mean, otherwise, you lived a virtually perect life (and when you messed up you even repented perfectly and endured to the end) but because of that one Nacho incident, you're not only going to be denied exaltation, but you're screwed and going to Outer Darkness with Satan and his angels for ever and ever.

No? Why not? It's the unforgivable sin, right? You felt the Ghost and then denied you did. Or even if you knew it, and wasn;t confused with Nachos, but you got a mischievous thought and couldn;t help but blurt out "I didn't feel the Ghost," just to see what would happen. But you really knew you did. Also, you're nine and have bad judgment.

But that doesn't seem to matter, because it's the unforgivable sin.

Is it really like that, or is it really this sort of hedging, hemming-and-hawing, "well, we don;t really know" garbage that essentially reassures you that only the 12 apostles pretty much could eevr become sons of perdition?

Or is it just vague and ill-defined because it's 19th century made-up theology? I personally go with this option.

wry catcher said...

How much do I love this post?!?

T-H-I-S M-U-C-H!!!

Seriously, you so captured it. I love it, and I love you too.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

SW, exactly!

Regina, that's the same way I felt once. Oy.

Kullervo, without much vagueness, I think the church would have fallen long before now. Don't you? They NEED vagueness.

Wry, I love you too! And you know it!

Lemon Blossom said...

Wow, Lisa. I will repeat what so many others have said. I love this post.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. About the "elitism" that comes with being a member, going to the temple, "knowing" you are one of God's chosen while the 'others' are just lost souls waiting to hear the message. Is my god really elitist? Is this how he shows us that he is no respecter of persons and loves all of us the same?

Very well done, Lisa. Thanks!

Beulah said...

Wow. Excellent post.

Kullervo said...

SML, it's not the vagueness that bothers me. Its the vagueness coupled with insistence that things are crystal clear.

In providing all the answers, Mormonism mostly just raises weirder questions.

Holly said...

Once again, I'm late to this party, but this was a phenomenal post.

Don't forget, that you also have the power to limit your career choices. I loved telling people how all sorts of human interactions would be replicated, and the GAs in this life would get to wear suits and work in expensive offices in the next life, while I'd probably be a ditch digger or janitor in a slaughter house, having gone and left the one and only true and living corporation the way I did.


Sister Mary Lisa said...


You're exactly right, of course. Good point.

LB, Buelah, and Holly,

Thanks so much for your compliments! You know what I like!!