Since the 1970s, people have gathered together in costumes to pretend they're in a particular fantasy world or historical period (like Dungeons and Dragons, or Pride and Prejudice).
LARPing is kinda like adult dress-up.
All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.
Last night, as I was walking to the catch the train after work, I wondered:
Are we LARPers in some sort of elaborate religious drama without realizing we're actually reenacting a medieval role?
Let me explain . . .
How is it our ancestors fought for religious freedom and yet, after all this time, we're left with religious feudalism?
Feudalism is a social system developed in medieval Europe in which all power vests in the Crown, and the King (or Queen) bestows privileges upon the nobility (usually land) in exchange for their loyalty and service.
At the bottom of the heap are the peasants (serfs) who are obliged to give labor and homage to their noble vassals.
Here's how it worked:
Why Are We Stuck in the Middle Ages?
This pyramid probably looks familiar because it represents a lot of modern religious systems, too.
While there are a couple of ways you can organize a church, feudalism is always a safe bet (if you're at the top, of course).
A crucial part of the Restoration was to restore equality among the Body of Christ.
But was it too late? Had we grown too accustomed to the power created by pyramid schemes to actually live Christ's law?
Does God want us to be equal?
Here's a quick refresher (before we come across another scary pyramid) of some of the scriptures we looked at in the series Stewards of Grace.
And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength. (Alma 1:26)
How can we to be equal in earthly and heavenly things in a hierarchy?
That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things. For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things. (D&C 78:5-6)
The principle of equality is not just for us humans. The gods Themselves live by it.
And [God] makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion. And the glory of the celestial is one, even as the glory of the sun is one. (D&C 76:95-96)
Pop Quiz: Why did the Nephite church break up? What was the cause of the destruction of the church?
*Ding Ding!* You guessed it. They were unequal.
BEWARE: Warning Signs
Mormon tells us (so we don't have to guess) what factors led to the Church being broken up in all the land.
Here were the warning signs (let's see if any of these factors apply to the Church today). I know it is a long list, but this is sorta the whole point to this blog! So if you've read this far, hang in there.
1. Disputings. "There began to be some disputings among the people" (3 Nephi 6:10).
I wonder what they were fighting about?
2. Pride and boastings. "Some were lifted up unto pride and boastings" (3 Nephi 6:10).
I wonder why some people thought they were more important than others?
3. Riches unto persecution. They had "exceedingly great riches, yea, even unto great persecutions" (3 Nephi 6:10).
Read that again. Great riches led to great persecutions. Why is that? Were they fighting over control of the money?
4. Distinguished by Status. "And the people began to be distinguished by ranks" (3 Nephi 6:12).
What's wrong with ranks?
5. Distinguished by Wealth. "Some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches" (3 Nephi 6:12).
What's wrong with a class system (upper, middle, and lower)?
6. Inequality. "And this there became a great inequality in all the land" (3 Nephi 6:14).
Here we go! Inequality is what pushes them over the cliff.
7. Church Breaks Up. "Insomuch that the church began to be broken up; yea, insomuch that in the thirtieth year the church was broken up in all the land" (3 Nephi 6:14).
But it keeps getting better . . .
8. Seeking Power and Authority. "Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this ― Satan had great power . . . tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world" (3 Nephi 6:15).
How is "authority" a "vain thing of the world?"
9. Willfully Disregarded God's Law. "Now they did not sign ignorantly, for they knew the will of God concerning them, for it had been taught unto them" (3 Nephi 6:18).
Which of God's laws are we in the Church ignoring or excusing?
10. Anger from Church Authorities. "Now there were many of the people who were exceedingly angry . . . and those who were angry were chiefly the chief judges, and they who had been high priests" (3 Nephi 6:21).
What's got the high priests all worked up?
11. Secrecy. "They did covenant one with another to destroy the governor, and to establish a king over the land, that the land should no more be at liberty but should be subject unto kings" (3 Nephi 6:30).
Why did the high priests want a king?
12. No unity. "The people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another" (3 Nephi 7:2).
So much for one fold, one Shepherd.
13. Seduction of the Righteous. "The more righteous part of the people had nearly all become wicked" (3 Nephi 7:7).
Oh boy. What does it take for righteous people to abandon Christ's laws?
14. Rule of men instead of Rule of law. "They were not united as to their laws, and their manner of government, for they were established according to the minds of those who were their chiefs and their leaders" (3 Nephi 7:14).
Don't you love arbitrary and capricious rules that change based upon who's in charge?
15. Mighty miracles performed by God's servant. "And Nephi [this was Nephi the son of Nephi, son of Helaman, son of Helaman, son of Alma, son of Alma who was a priest of King Noah] did minister with power and with great authority" (3 Nephi 7:17).
Nephi wasn't in charge of the government, or the military, or the church (it was broken up, remember), so where did he get his authority from? What is the difference between his authority and that held by the "chiefs and leaders?"
16. Destruction. "There arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land. And there was also a great and terrible tempest; and there was terrible thunder, insomuch that it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder. And there were exceedingly sharp lightnings, such as never had been known in all the land. And the city of Zarahemla did take fire" (3 Nephi 8:5-8)
I guess the Nephites in Zarahemla didn't pay their tithing (otherwise they'd have had fire insurance)
If I Were a Betting Man . . .
If you asked me where (in 2021) we were at on that list (between 1 and 16) . . .
I would pause long enough to take a sip of Mt. Dew and would say, staring you in the eye, my voice husky with portent . . .