Dead Souls and Mormonism

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Dead Souls and Mormonism

Post by SamBee » 20 May 2017, 13:44

One of the classics of Russian literature - or not since Gogol was strictly speaking Ukrainian - and one of my personal favorites, Dead Souls is unfortunately an unfinished novel.

And it's one that reminds me of Mormonism in a curious way.

Gogol's works are bizarre and quite funny. The concept of Dead Souls is too, and I hope I can explain it well enough.

Before the serfs (peasant slaves) were freed in Russia - an event similar to the slave emancipation in the USA - aristocrats and landlords owned X number of souls e.g. a village of 50 peasants = 50 souls. Each landlord paid tax on the number of souls he owns. Censuses are infrequent, so a lot of the souls they pay tax on are "dead souls" i.e. serfs who have died but are still registered as alive (no death certificates were issued back then.)

A guy called Chichikov has a novel idea - he wants to buy these "dead souls" at bottom dollar or rouble...

Why? Because due to the bureaucratic quirks, it means the landowners stop paying tax on them. Moreover, it benefits Chichikov, because even though he has the tax issue to face up to, it means he looks much richer than he is and will be able to raise a huge loan against the dead souls he owns and then run off with the cash!

"Dead Souls" reminds me a bit of Mormonism because not only do we compete with each other for work for the dead and "a list of names" who may or may not have existed, we also make our wards and branches bigger by keeping inactive members on the roll until they reach 112! So maybe all this Russian weirdness is not so alien after all!

Here is an unrelated video on what would happen if everyone who had ever lived came back. The population would jump to a whopping 108 billion, which I am amazed to hear is far more than live today.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true is...authorized to administer the Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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