A popular Mormon hymn, More Holiness Give Me, begins each of 30 phrases with the word, “more.” Granted, most of the requests are for spiritual gifts such as more faith, patience, gratitude, and purity. Each desire correlates with Joseph Smith’s definition of the word “mormon” as meaning “more good.”*
The Doctrine of More is very much part of current LDS teaching: More life—an eternity. More family—for all eternity. More sex—eternal procreation. More work—creating worlds. More power—becoming as God.
These “mores,” directed towards the next life, give Mormons greater purpose in this life. None of these is a bad thing to want more of. In fact, all of these Desires-for-More correspond to human nature. Of course, contemporary American Mormons, like their gentile counterparts, extend “more” to coveting more material goodies in this life. That too is human nature.
With a philosophy nearly opposite that of 21st century American values, it seems odd that Buddhist practice is growing in the US. Buddhism emphasizes “less”—less attachment to material goods, less attachment to past and future, less attachment to body, to ego. The Buddhist philosophy of acceptance may be more realistic than the Mormon tradition of striving for perfection. It is certainly more peaceful. Still, I suspect it has less appeal to our human nature which is bent on acquiring and keeping.
Which belief system will flourish in a century that, so far, promises constant turmoil? Maybe neither.
*(See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 300 for this unusual etymology).