Written by on October 13, 2014

Bob, Jake, Glenn, and Matt talk to Mike Tannehill about the devil — and evil – and his whole role in the Plan of Salvation — and a whole bunch of other stuff.

  1. Heather_ME   On   October 13, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    This is why you heathens can’t understand the pure light of the gospel that Mike is sharing with you.
    1 Corinthians 2:14
    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

  2. Randy_Snyder   On   October 13, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    BTW, Lucifer was a name used only by Isaiah to refer to a Babylonian King. Christians and therefore, Mormons, erroneously tagged it onto the great villain and adversary. Just another funny fuck up by the life of every party he went to, Joseph Smith.

    • Christopher Allman   On   October 15, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      I never knew that, that is pretty funny!
      The way one of the most important early civilizations (Babylon) has generally become a symbol for evil, (because they happened to enslave a small middle eastern tribe that ultimately bred Christianity) is in itself pretty weird and funny.

    • Johnnie   On   October 18, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      And Isaiah appropriated the name from astronomy. It meant “light-bringer” and was the name for the planet Venus, i.e. the morning star or son of the morning.

  3. JT   On   October 14, 2014 at 12:33 am

    I don’t know if this comes up later but …
    I find it more interesting to ask what the sponsors and actors in these Hell Houses get out of it.
    We know what they’ll say – the script they’ve come to believe. But what I think they are really after – and not conscious of – is a quick “fix.” The drug is watching young people being humiliated and breaking down in real time – just like they did – and then getting a snort of Crystal-Jesus. They also get the chance to act out extraordinary displays of sin – guilt free.
    Seems to me there is some sick shit going down here.

  4. Orrin Dayne   On   October 14, 2014 at 12:49 am

    I listened to this episode with your musing that Infants on Thrones may be past the point where it makes sense to bring on Mike T as a guest. For what it’s worth, I was much less interested in portions where people (usually Mike T) were trying to explain/justify Satan in the theology or tangents thereof (e.g., how Satan’s plan might be implemented). But I also loved Mike explaining how he can tell what is or isn’t legit in the apocrypha. In the end, I much preferred the latter-day demon stories more than anything else in this episode.
    On another subject, how does a belief in Satan affect Church members in a way that helps the Church. Is it just a scare tactic? Is there some benefit to having an external cause to blame for temptations? I think there is a benefit beyond the scare tactic. I believe that it’s appealing,from an ego perspective, to blame Satan for temptations. You don’t have to blame yourself (at least if you quickly dismiss those temptations and sing a hymn, right?). So assume someone believes that Satan is the source of temptations, like having dirty thoughts. Well, everyone is going to have dirty thoughts. And when they happen, you have proof positive that Satan exists because they couldn’t POSSIBLY come from you and because you feel so dark about it! So while it may be difficult to get folks to feel a burning in their bosom about God or the Book of Mormon, it’s pretty easy to get them to think dirty thoughts, feel bad about it, and interpret that as Satan’s influence. And if you get people to buy into Satan, the need for (and testimony of) God and the Church naturally/quickly follow. So in a way, I think Satan is a key testimony builder.

  5. Findfaultwiththis   On   October 14, 2014 at 5:03 am

    I’d like to offer my services and debate Mike T as if I were Brigham Young. Think of it like an Epic Theological Battles of Mormonism History.

  6. Brian   On   October 14, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    My sociological explanation for belief systems that include a Satan and evil spirits is that it helps solve the problem of free-riders in a large group. Every long lasting society needs to somehow motivate as many people as possible to give more than they take (preferably much more since a significant amount inevitably will take more than they give). Some of the historically most discouraged behaviors in Mormonism (sins) involve taking more than you receive.
    Some examples.
    Not marrying or limiting the amount of children you have intentionally==> Not helping to grow the Mormon population and thus limiting the future wealth and influence of the church.
    Not paying tithing==> Using resources without contributing to the wealth of the church.
    Not going on a mission==> Not helping to spread Mormonism or proving your loyalty.
    Sexual behaviors before marriage==> Referred to as selfish-pleasure. It’s seen as taking without giving to the community, because there is the possibility of unplanned pregnancies which might place a burden on the community to provide for single mothers.
    So in order to increase the intensity of the motivation to comply with the leaders’ and community’s ideas of what is free-riding, the desire to do these things are personified as originating from an evil unseen group that wants the society to fail.
    And in a new society that is just getting started, such as frontier Mormonism colonizing desert landscapes, they needed to eliminate as many free-riders as possible. It seems to be a pretty common pattern that cultures that begin in harsh conditions personify good and evil very literally.

  7. Corey Whore   On   October 14, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    This reminded me of horror fans arguing over what is considered a true vampire or zombie. I think everyone in the church has their own details about what the devil consists of, but we are/were never allowed to discuss it as openly as it was here.

  8. head-desk   On   October 14, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    “Isn’t that political conservatism”?
    I don’t know about Mike. But when I was a believer and a crazy ass conservative, I would have said, “Yes, damn it!” I truly believed that liberalism was evil and headed by the devil. It matched up so perfectly in my mind. Liberals disagreed with me on everything. Every Mormon I knew were conservatives / agreed with me. The church taught me conservatism. Conservatism = God. Liberalism = Satan.

  9. Homsar   On   October 14, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    How were you guys not taught that Satan’s plan was for anarchy? The “going to earth without going through the veil” theory totally falls apart because of exactly what Jake said. My seminary teacher taught all of us in the true land of the righteous (southern Idaho) that Satan’s plan was to come to earth without any laws or commandments because if there are no laws and commandments then no one can sin. So Satan would force us all to be righteous by completely eliminating wickedness, or that is to say making it so that there was no such thing as a wrong choice. Obviously. All that aside, I was really with Matt on this one. You guys were getting too far into the theological weeds for me, but I guess some people like that. I wanted more halloweeny stories too!!
    I’ll throw out one of my own halloweeny stories: One time this lady on my mission was convinced her waterbed was haunted, so we had to come bless her waterbed. She ended up making us take the waterbed apart, and to take it away with us. We did, and we got a creepy vibe from the thing so we left outside our apartment. That same lady also showed us some pictures of the ghost that was haunting her waterbed. They mostly looked like lens flares and creepy after images, but they were real to her. And as we learned in the last few podcasts, if something is real to someone’s lived experience then it really is “real.” So the waterbed was “really” haunted.

  10. Erica   On   October 14, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Some kind soul on Reddit pointed me to your podcast, and I’m so happy he did, I’m enjoying the shit out of it.
    Just for clarification, I’ve never been a Mormon, have no Mormon family members, I’ve never actually met a flesh and blood Mormon in my life. But Mormonism fascinates the hell out of me.
    I now completely understand how so many Mormons move away from religion altogether after their (inevitable) crises of faith. I guess that experiencing another type of communion wine would just taste like flavor-aid.

    • JT   On   October 14, 2014 at 11:11 pm

      First, putting the metaphor aside, EVERY other type of communion wine would taste better than what Mormons get …
      Second, I recommend you visit a Mormon communion (aka sacrament service) on the first Sunday of any given month …
      (Hey, everybody else … don’t be a spoiler!)

      • Erica   On   October 14, 2014 at 11:24 pm

        Is it true they use just regular white bread? Like ubiquitous Wonder bread? I saw that in Big Love and thought for sure it was just a way to portray Bill Hendrickson’s narcissistic insanity. But sure enough, I keep reading about Wonder bread communion.
        That’s just beyond crazy talk.

      • JT   On   October 15, 2014 at 2:16 pm

        That’s pretty much how I remember it – which meant greasy deep thumb prints to nibble around.
        I wouldn’t be surprised a few hipster wards (parishes) are using multi-grain, but think the church is decades away from gluten-free.

  11. Heather   On   October 14, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    I’m interested in looking into Matt’s strong opinion on Martha Beck’s book. I’ve read her book and I really don’t have an opinion either way, but on the exmo board I follow most of them feel the same way Matt does- just curious as to why. It’d be great to have more pod casts reviewing Mormon or ex Mormon books- I really enjoyed the discussion on “Under the Banner of Heaven.” “The Sins of Brother Curtis” was another interesting one, or “The 19th Wife” which was brought up in an episode- can’t remember which one.
    Anyway… enjoyed these two Creepy Spooky Devil Talk pod casts. =)

  12. JT   On   October 15, 2014 at 12:19 am

    Morality is certainly tied to the idea of promoting flourishing and not harming others. And many people – particularly the liberal-leaning – most strongly engage with this on an interpersonal level. This leads them to think (and feel) that “victimless sins,” such as masturbation and drinking coffee, are not “really” immoral. I think this came across in one of Matt’s earlier comments.
    However, not causing harm and promoting flourishing operates on the group-level also. Many people – particularly the conservative-leaning – are very sensitive to acts of group support vs. free-riding (as Brian mentioned earlier), and group loyalty vs. betrayal. For them such things as the prohibition of masturbation feels moral because it implicitly serves the group. It serves as a loyalty and commitment test – especially when the person internalizes the need to disclose violations to an authority – that cycle of guilt and confession a sign of that a person is controllable, yes, but also loyal. Not drinking coffee and alcohol are in-group-identifiers – and costly signs of loyalty and commitment.
    As an aside, group-level morality seems to have appropriated the natural disgust response to bolster group-centric moral responsiveness. Sex that doesn’t serve the group – by making a bigger group – is “dirty” or disgusting, etc.
    I would think the psychological “suffering” from violating group-centered rules is most intensely experienced by those who are most strongly attached to or most strongly identify with their group, whether by nature or nurture.
    And institutional (big-group) religion (and Mormonism in particular) has certainly stumbled upon some clever ways of nurturing peoples’ responsiveness to group-centered morality. The big one is the “Families-are-Forever-for-the-Group” thing, as was mentioned.
    What is amazing is the authority figures will almost never frame these group-centered moral norms in group-serving terms. They nearly always framed them in terms of what will bring the individual harm or “blessings.” The most glaring case is tithing. One might see this as intentional – deliberate manipulation. But I doubt it. I suspect they buy into it themselves. They system has turned them into its ventriloquist dummies self-righteously pulling off these bait-and-switch transactions, i.e. “You need to do this this for your personal exaltation (You are really doing this for the institution) – all internalized and operating unconsciously.
    This whole thing is such a complex evolutionary mess – and this is oversimplified and incomplete. But the group-level dimension of morality and the psychological attachment piece I mentioned is supported by psychological evidence – Consider the work of the psychologists Jonathan Haidt and Lee Kirkpatrick.

    • Randy_Snyder   On   October 18, 2014 at 7:11 am

      Great comment JT. The best Mormon example I can think of of an ad hoc rationalization of an intuition and disposition is the gay issue. To a sheltered Mormon, homosexuality is icky bc they imagine how gross it would be if they were to engage in same-sex relations. Then when challenged to make a cogent defense of their position on gay rights, their arguments are an ad hoc mess as they try their best to not sound bigoted and to sound rational and sensible.

      • JT   On   October 19, 2014 at 1:55 am

        Hi Randy,
        Post hoc rationalization indeed.
        But here’s a bit of a confession. I’m pretty sure I did some hoc rationalizing of my own when I first slid into inactivity. You see, I’m negatively disposed to attaching to or self-identifying with groups. (The endowment ritual (c. 1984) really woke me up to that.)
        This means I have to allow for the possibility that if I were otherwise innately disposed, I might have rationalized my way into a new “paradigm” that allowed me to survive a “crucible of doubt” by ad hoc theological stylings.
        I don’t mind confessing this since what motivates an argument has no bearing on whether it is sound.
        But it just so happens that the ones I’ve rationalized are all sound!
        And so, I simply consider myself one of the luckiest men alive. By golly, that makes me super special!
        Have a nice day Randy!

      • Randy_Snyder   On   October 19, 2014 at 7:53 am

        Yes, we all do it all the time. I’ve done it many times on this podcast for many to laugh at. It’s part of the human experience.

  13. Mike   On   October 15, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    I know you guys didn’t think this was a good of an episode as the first one. But I enjoyed it! Although…..I think I enjoyed Bob’s comments (I think it was Bob, still getting used to the voices) about “Oh Mike T believes it? Good enough for me. *snicker*” And I LOVE the little comments by the devil!!! I think he should comment on more podcasts!!!
    Also…I heard the same story as you guys…but it was a Temple President walking out of the temple and he saw the hosts of satan ridding up to attack. And then angels defended the temple. My mom is a big believer in all the mormons tells.
    (Side Note)
    Have you guys done a podcast on all the Mormon folklore yet? If not, have you thought about doing one? You know, like where someone picked up a hitch hiker near the salt flats and he turned and said “You need to make sure you have your food storage ready.” And then they turn and back and the guy is gone. My mom eats those stories up! And while I will admit I would fall for some of them…my mom thinks they are all true!

  14. Christopher Allman   On   October 16, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Since we know history gets written by the victor, who is to say that, even within Mormon theology, Satan is getting a fair shake? What is to say it isn’t Jesus who was the prideful one, butthurt that someone else had a plan, a plan that might even best his own, threatening his number one status with the Father? After all, it was Satan and his followers who were cast out to hell FOREVER, simply for disagreement!
    Mike suggested that perhaps Satan’s plan was fear based, but what could be more fear based (and prideful) than a plan where, if you don’t enslave yourself to Jesus, body and mind, then you will have to suffer FOREVER!?

    • Mike   On   October 16, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      Interesting thought. It is true that history get’s written by those who win. I mean, look at Mormon history. Totally written by the Mormons.

  15. hunterkorvis   On   October 16, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    During the whole discussion on devils touching you because “spirit is still matter” I remember the old teaching (I believe by Joseph Smith?) that stated if you are ever visited by an angel to shake their hand.
    An angel without a body would tell you they can’t, an Angel with a body would shake your hand and you would be able to feel it, and a demon which has no body would try to shake your hand, but you would not feel it.
    So if a demon can actually knock you over why can’t they shake your hand?

    • Mike   On   October 16, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      Hmmm…good point!
      Maybe because God would not allow it? That or we just don’t know and will find out after this life lol.

  16. Pink-lead   On   October 21, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Still looking for more tales of boogey men? I got some amusement out of the files linked here: http://www.experttextperts.com/2013/03/witchcraft-rock-n-roll-and-mission-lore.html
    You’ve got a few stories of demons and suicides. But more importantly, SATAN is exposed. His clever trick of having groups like Led Zeppelin and Queen write lyrics that when played backwards……We’re being influenced by shit like this all the time and we don’t even know it……

  17. Kelsy   On   October 27, 2014 at 4:59 am

    This was definitely one of the weaker IOT podcasts I’ve listened to. I usually avoid Mike T. episodes since I find him tedious–not just for his insane ideas but for his inability to banter or respond in an on-topic manner to what was just said to him. I was looking forward to more Spooky talk and this was more just boring seminary theology.

  18. gadams   On   November 3, 2014 at 2:32 am

    So I heard a different variation on the Missionary challenges Satan story growing up in small mid-western ward. My younger sister heard a version where the missionary made the challenge in the bathroom and was found dead with slit wrists. She was pretty shook up about it and my dad made sure to explain to both of us that it wasn’t Satan that killed him (directly) but that sometime soon after making the challenge the missionary was in a car accident and was killed. Dad’s not really the type to go in for these types of stories – I’m going to have to ask him what he was actually thinking at the time.
    TL;DR – Satan won’t reach out and kill you, but he can get you in a fatal car wreck – but somehow that’s less worrisome.
    On a lighter note, probably the funniest experience of my mission featured Satan ‘riding on the waters’ from the D&C. I was assigned a native companion and we were trying to reopen an area that hadn’t had missionaries for 2 years. Somehow, the old area book had survived and there was an entry for a young lady that worked the local tourist visitors center. We stopped by and she was still working there. After some chit-chat it was pretty clear she had no interest in the church, but enjoyed talking with young guys her age while on the clock.
    During that conversation, she asked why none of the missionaries would go swimming (this was a nice beach area). With full seriousness, my companion replied, “because Satan rides upon the waters”, which is even funnier to hear in Portuguese than it is in English. The quizzical look on her face was priceless. It was all I could do to not bust a gut right then and there. With all the composure I could muster, I offered that it was because drowning had been the leading cause of death on missions, so the church made a rule against it for safety. She thought about it a minute and said, ‘that makes a lot of sense, what in the world was your friend trying to say?’ Ahh… the joys of Mormon doctrine 🙂

  19. Thomas Moore   On   January 13, 2015 at 8:13 am

    I finally got around to listening to this. I’m an unbeliever, but I did enjoy a lot of the scriptures and theology. However it would be great if you guys could do a Podcast with Grant Wilson who was on SyFy’s “Ghost Hunters” and helped create TAPS. Although I believe he is TBM so he may not want to be interviewed. Right now he’s more involved with his RPG gaming. However D&C 88 was part of Glenn Larson’s presentation for the 12 worlds for Battle Star Galactic right???

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