While out to dinner with a good friend, conversation inexplicably turned to Jonestown (I think because my peach lemonade reminded him of red Kool-Aid?). Between bites of fried pickle, he expressed how curious he was about how one man who claims revelation from God can convince people to kill themselves.
My friend is a bitter atheist who believes that religion has no place whatsoever in the world. Jamestown is one of his many good points.
Suddenly, he steered the conversation much closer to my little Cache Valley: “What if Thomas Monson suddenly had a revelation and told everyone to kill themselves?”
We agreed that the Church was too profitable for the prophet to pull a move like that, at least in the foreseeable future. Still, the thought was scary enough to make us put our forks down. He decided that his family would do it without hesitation. I wondered.
Not to jump on the bandwagon that is Mad Max, but I didn’t realize in time that I paid for my movie ticket with my soul. (Brief sales pitch: Go see it. Especially if you like being uncomfortable.)
With no further introduction/warning than one commercial that came between me and the movie I was trying to watch, I jumped from my theater seat into a world of pure, sandy Hell.
(If many of you are familiar with this version of the apocalypse, I apologize, but I need to recapitulate a bit to make my point)
At the head of a group of barely-survivors rules fat ol’ Immortan Joe. He is worshipped by everyone (not coincidentally, Joe controls the water distribution in his desert community). He cages and breeds with the most beautiful, multiple wives, considers human beings his property, and even raises an army of young boys to become chaotic warriors. Did I mention he hogs the water in the desert apocalypse?
Joe is worshipped, especially by his brain-washed (and potentially drug-addicted) army of young men. They consider it an outrageous honor to die at his command.
How does an old, fat, dying guy rise to the top of the dung pile and stay there? How does he talk his citizens into giving him all the gorgeous women and keep everyone else impoverished? How does he manipulate his hordes of men?
Ahaha. With religion.
In the end, my friend and I decided that if the prophet of the Latter-Day church were to ask everyone to kill themselves and their families, he would know. If only because they would call him and try to get him to kill himself, too.