THE MORMON CURTAIN
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EX-MORMONISM SECTION 2
A very large selection of posts made by those in recovery from Mormonism. Culled from throughout the Ex-Mormon Communities.
| I was just over on Amazon.com, on their page for the Book of Mormon (looking to see if they'd reposted tanstaafl's classic review parody), and stumbled across this review by faithful mormon Cameron Riedel from Enumclaw, WA. |
While I have never been one to use the term "morgbot" much on these boards, this is an instance where the reviewer's words epitomize the braindead pyschopathology of a cult follower.
Before I excerpt what this person said about the nature of Doubt, please take a moment to recall the principles of brain-numbing as satirized in George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm.....
Ready? Now for the Morgbot's nuggets of wisdom:
There is one thing, a warning that I will leave to any half-hearted browser of this book. That is the corrupting influence of doubt that can cause one to forget the reason for pursuing truth and righteousness.
Satan has many masks, and through doubt, and outside influences he tries to keep even the most sincere reader out of the habit of regular study. I saw this influence at work every day when I gave away free copies of this precious book. Those initially contacted would feel and recognize the beauty of the Gospel contained in it, but would later let criticism and doubt creep in and lose their faith.
The devil is real, and would have anyone believe he is not, and that this book is not worthwhile reading. This alone is reason enough to read it, for the honest seeker after truth is aware of his enemy and stands well armed with any knowledge gained about his tactics....
This type of demonization/Satanization of doubt is worthy of a chapter in Elaine Pagel's book The Origins of Satan, in which she illustrated how religious partisans have exploited the arch-enemy concept of Satan/Lucifer, applying it to their opponents as a discrediting rhetorical tool.
DOUBT (or, skepticism) is what keeps the average person from investing in a "can't miss / too good to be true" real estate bargain, sight (and property) unseen.
DOUBT is what keeps the average person from believing that blood-letting is a safe cure for most illnesses.
DOUBT is what keeps the average person from letting that sincere, earnest, solicitous street person borrow your ATM card and PIN number, which he will return to you shortly.
DOUBT is what keeps the average person from regularly plunking down large bills to have that palm reader (or astrologer, or numerologist, or tea-leaf reader, etc) make your major life decisions for you.
DOUBT is what keeps the average person from accepting point-blank the convoluted rationalizations of the Holocaust Deniers.
DOUBT is what keeps the average person from thinking that Reverand Moon is the new messiah, or from volunteering one's 12 year old daughters to new prophet David Koresh, or from committing group suicide so that we can be united with the Alien-Gods in their flying saucer following behind comet Hale-Bopp, or from believing that the evil alien ruler Xenu flew his minions to earth millions of years ago and that we evolved from clams (http://www.xenu.net/archive/leaflet/).
DOUBT is the opposite of naive credulity, the opposite of blind trust, the opposite of being a stupid imbecile.
Mormons use 'Doubt' all the time - appropriately, even. They'd never suggest that being skeptical of those things I've mentioned above is inappropriate, or even inspired by Satan. So doubt is a good thing, they'd concede.
But once you doubt their sacred cows.... well, THEN it's a different story. Funny that, eh? "Apply healthy tools of skepticism to everyone except me" is the policy of Mormonism. It's the most dangerous type of conformist authoritarianism -- remember those Orwell examples I mentioned above?
Doubt and Skepticism serve as the necessary checks and balances against the tyranny of authoritarianism, as Karl Popper pointed out in his pro-democracy books on 'The Open Society'. Brains and rationality protect us against foolishness and unquestioned tyranny.
Being Anti-Doubt is, implicitly, to be Pro-Authoritarianism. And that's exactly what Mormonism wants. Unquestioning Obedience to Authority is what Mormonism considers its greatest virtue; conversely, Doubt becomes Mormon-think's gravest vice.
This warped anti-rationality Orwellian mindfuck is epitomized by something my TBM wife's friend told her about a year ago (after I had pointed out some factual information to her that conclusively and irrefutably disproved certain Mormon claims): "Don't Let the Doubt Sprout!" Well, gee thanks, Brave Brave Sir Robin, for telling my wife it's virtuous to be a stupid fricking vegetable when someone is trying to take 10% of her/my paycheck for constructing ostentatious, opulent, members-only resorts in which to recite macabre oaths and Secret Combinations stolen from Masonry's occult rituals... She might as well have said to my wife: "Don't question the intentions of the Good Shepherd, just get along, little dogie, into that cattle chute. Don't let the blood and rotting carcasses and stench emanating from the other side of the building cause you to DOUBT that we're on a noble journey into this building here...."
In other words, it's OK to use your brain, to be rational, to objectively weigh all sides/claims of an issue or topic, "UNLESS it pertains to our religion." That is the sole exception, the special case, in which it is virtuous to be naive, credulous, blindly trusting, unskeptical, and discount/ignore any and all empirical facts that support 'the other side.'
That, my friends, is a serious psychopathology. Applied to any other realm of experience, even your average Mormon psychologist will readily tell you that believing something, despite the overwhelming consensus of facts to the contrary, is called DELUSION.
'Faith' is believing in something for which there is little or no evidence one way or the other. It's belief or hope in the unknown. Nothing wrong with that! But I'm not talking about 'Faith'..... given Joseph Smith's claims/teachings, and all the massive amounts of scientific / historical evidence to the contrary, we're not talking about believing in the unknown (as would be the case with many religions). With Mormonism, there IS evidence for believing one way or the other, lots of evidence. And it all falls one way: against. The concept of 'Faith' is no longer relevant.
Obstinantly continuing to believe in the counter-factual is DELUSION, plain and simple.
And, to FEAR 'doubt' as an undesirable mental process, or as somehow indicative of a moral weakness - that, is an unhealthy mental pathology.
To go further and demonize objectivity, skepticism, and doubt in a highly selective narrow context (Mormonism only, otherwise they are virtues!) is Cult-Think.
THAT is why Mormonism is bad.
It encourages a dangerous psychopathology. It warps your brain. It discourages you from utilizing normal, healthy, necessary mental processes that we need for survival.
Skepticism is good. Always.
Objectivity is good. Always.
Doubt is good. Always.
Anyone who tells you otherwise (Boyd K. Packer comes to mind here), probably has something to hide, and is trying to deceive you.
To paraphrase the Boydster:
"Promoting Credulity and Blind Trust in Authoritarianism is Far, Far Greater than the Intellect"
Thanks Cameron Riedel from Enumclaw, WA, for your public review of the Book of Mormon, and your public display of Orwellian Anti-Brainism, thereby illustrating by example what is so very very wrong with Mormonism.
| It is said that part of the process of retaking consciousness from Mormonism is “undeceiving” yourself and “unlearning” the
destructive mental gymnastics that are required to maintain a Mormon testimony. In my own process of “unlearning” Mormonism, I
came to a realization today about how Mormonism teaches black and white thinking, and how this is a destructive part of Mormonism.
I won't get into a lot of detail about BandW thinking here, except to reiterate the well-known fact that it is a hallmark of
depression , can exacerbate depression, and is an
underlying tenet of fanatical religious fundamentalism. It is not “zero tolerance for unrighteousness”, as the church may say in
defense of itself. What I realized today is how the church teaches this kind of thinking, making it a common theme of
“righteousness” and following God's commandments.
The Book of Mormon gives the account of Lehi's dream, with the iron rod, a tree with white fruit, a spacious building full of
scornful onlookers, and a number of other colorful metaphors. This is perhaps one of the most widely taught stories from the Book
of Mormon because it contains so much imagery in a compact and engaging story. The basic gist of the story illustrates that there
is one path that leads to God (the tree), and that it is surrounded by danger and intrigue. If you hold to the iron rod that
lines the path, you cannot fail in your journey toward God. If you let go, all bets are off and you will likely perish.
The story adds other themes that can easily be expounded on, such as the great gulf that surrounds the path to the tree. It
appears that nobody is capable of walking the path on their own; and that nobody is capable of avoiding peril and destruction
unless they hold to the iron rod.
The story also describes a large and spacious building inhabited by people who mock and scoff at those on the path toward the
tree. It appears that anyone who is not on the righteous path must either be in the large building with the wicked, or they are
on their way to the gulf of darkness.
This is actually a great story! The only problem is, it is a horribly inaccurate reflection of life, and it sets an unrealistic
standard by which to judge people. The story was allegedly a vision or dream that Lehi had, and the fact that Nephi was given the
same dream via angelic visitation implies that the story was given by God as a metaphor for life's journey. A Mormon who believes
the Book of Mormon has every reason to believe that the story was authored by God, and thereby also believe that it is an
accurate representation of life.
Is this really an accurate depiction of life? Is there really a God to whom we will return? If so, is there really just one path
back to God? Are there really just two groups of people in life; those holding fast to the iron rod (the word of God), and
everyone else doomed in a world of wickedness?
Like so many other myths from Mormon history, the Story of Lehi's dream deals in certainties only. You are either on the one
approved course for mankind, or you are on your way to despair and death. Moreover, if you disagree with any part of the “path”,
you are numbered with the wicked in the spacious building, mocking God. There are no shades of grey or any other color, there is
no hope for anyone else, there is no other path.
This is no different from the First Vision story, in which Joseph says that God and Jesus told him that all churches were false.
Later, Jesus allegedly told Joseph that the Mormon Church is the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.
All other churches are false and dead. The list of similar examples go on and on, and can be found everywhere in the doctrines
Joseph taught, as well as in doctrines taught today.
None of this is news to a Mormon. Today's General Authorities consistently repeat that we are indeed at war; Satan is afoot in
the land, spreading lies! When my sister-in-law heard that I had rejected Mormonism, she asked me to consider the possibility
that whatever books I had been reading had been inspired by Satan (I had only been reading materials published by the church and
FARMS, so maybe she was on to something). Mormons believe that the church embodies all truth; anything outside the Mormon realm
is Satan's territory.
Black and white thinking is not just an admitted part of Mormonism; it is cherished and seen as essential to righteousness. If you
tell a Mormon that this is bad, they will defy you or dismiss you out of hand. If your main aspiration in life is “enduring to
the end”, you must rely on certainty, and nothing provides certainty as easily as BandW thinking. Mormons have a very difficult
time understanding why anyone might object to this way of thinking because it is central to their view of righteousness. In their
eyes, when you reject BandW thinking, you reject all that is holy and good.
BandW thinking is also central to many harmful sentiments that Mormons harbor toward others who believe differently. Next time
you're invited to an LDS service opportunity or outdoor party, bring enough coffee and Coke for everyone. Wear a tank top. If
you're a woman and it is especially hot out, wear a bikini top with some modest shorts. If you have a tattoo, make sure it shows.
If you smoke, make sure to feed your habit at least once. Do you suppose people will be comfortable around you? You can bet that
you will be a topic of private conversations later on, even if all you did was let your tattoo show. If anyone brought their
children to the event, you can bet that they will receive instruction based on the choices you exhibit. In reality, none of the
things I'm suggesting have any bearing on “righteousness”, even by Mormon standards. Yet, black and white thinking keeps them from
seeing anyone outside the Mormon culture without suspicion. This only serves to make Mormons even more isolationist, more
elitist, and more dogmatic in their quest for salvation.
I am reminded of a movie I saw last year called What the Bleep Do We Know? While I don't subscribe
to a lot of the metaphysical mumbo jumbo in that movie, I do agree with the comments made by "Ramtha" that suggest we are
essentially incapable of offending God. "How can we, these insignificant little carbon units in the backwaters of the universe,
offend God??" Other opinions were given in the movie that suggest, from a religious perspective, that we cannot continue to seek
enlightenment while holding to the notion that we are all imperfect sinners, in need of punishment and humble supplication, or
worse, that any of us has an absolute and perfect grasp on the will of God. Instead, it was suggested that we have many important
truths to learn about ourselves, our potential, and about finding enlightenment by looking upon ourselves as being a part of God,
and as already being perfect (in all our apparent flaws).
In stark contrast to Mormonism and any other fundamentalist worldview, the message of What the Bleep is essentially that the
world is made up of uncertainty and endless probabilities, yet it contains endless possibilities. It can be anything and
everything that we want it to be because, scientifically speaking, there is no such thing as black and white. I will never be a
student of Ramtha, but I gained a whole new perspective-a healthier perspective-on life when I saw that movie.
Back to the depression angle. I have a keen interest in this because my TBM wife of 14 years suffers from severe depression, for
which she has been institutionalized twice, and for which she takes a panoply of medications. In helping my wife, I have studied
much about depression and have seen its effects firsthand. I have learned a great deal about behaviors that arise from
depression, as well as those that cause it. As complex as depression is, I know one thing: certain behaviors are linked to
depression. In some people, these behaviors result from being depressed. In other people, these behaviors are the actual cause of
depression. Often it is difficult if not impossible to determine which is the cause and which is the effect. One of these
behavioral links is BandW thinking, and every therapist will help their patients “unlearn” this harmful behavior.
As I have come to see what Mormonism is, what it teaches, and the effects of its teachings, I cannot help but conclude that
Mormonism is a big reason, if not THE big reason, why my wife suffers from depression as much as she does. She may be genetically
predisposed to depression, but I find it remarkable that her treatment always involves “unlearning” many of the habits she and I
both picked up in the church.
I also can't help but draw some conclusions about reports of depression in Utah and the possibilities of Mormonism being the
primary cause. I did some research last year about the use of anti-depressants in Utah. Factoring in reports that indicate Utah's
use of anti-depressants is double the national average, factoring in the percent of the Utah population that is adult and female,
and assuming that non-LDS women in Utah take no more danti-depressants than the nation average, I calculated that Mormon women in
Utah are FIVE TIMES as likely to take anti-depressants as non-Mormon women elsewhere in the USA. This statistic assumes that
anti-depressants are used as often by Mormon men as often as Mormon women. If more LDS women take anti-depressants than LDS men,
the then rate is even higher! If my assumption about non-LDS women in Utah was incorrect, then we at least know that more LDS
women are on anti-depressants than most any other demographic. This is incredible.
A few nights ago my TBM father-in-law asked me about my intentions to keep my children in the church. I admitted that I believe
the church is harmful and that I want my children out of the church now. He couldn't imagine why I felt this way. Like I said
above, Mormons don't see a problem with BandW thinking. They think, “How could righteousness cause depression?” Yet, how can so
many Mormon husbands in Utah be so blind to the epidemic from which their wives suffer? This is not new; Orson Hyde chose to
believe Joseph Smith over his wife's claim that Joseph tried to seduce her. It is natural for Mormon men to choose their religion
over the wellbeing of their women.
I choose to support my wife and denounce Mormonism for the dangerous, insidious element that it is. Regrettably, my wife tries
desperately to find an increase of happiness and blessings by drawing closer to the church. Yet it has only brought her continued
feelings of self-doubt, self-disgust, and utter unhappiness. I hope she sees the light soon.
I also hope more Mormon men see the light and renounce their disgusting, godless religion. In its BandW thinking, it has become the
large and spacious building Lehi supposedly had, with all the Mormons mocking those below who are trying to discover their own
self-worth. Mormonism is also a gulf of despair of its own, leading people blindly into unhappiness and turmoil. It's almost as
if Mormons who feel they aren't meeting God's expectations begin to feel the scorn of the Mormons in the spacious building,
pointing down at their imperfections and scoffing. Mormonism teaches that there is not an endless array of possibilities in life;
there are only two. You are either on the Lord's side, or you're following Satan.
If I were to select a metaphor for life in place of Lehi's dream, I would simply illustrate a world without religions, where
people are free to discover enlightenment everywhere. There is no one path to enlightenment, to God, or to happiness. Every
person is unique, with unique insights on life, with a unique purpose. There is no BandW metaphor that can encompass this reality.
“Undeceiving” myself from the BandW lies of Mormonism has brought me more happiness than I ever had in the church.
| My wife and I left the church a year ago. I am reminded that I am an exmormon when I get up in the morning and see my fruit of the looms in the mirror, when I drink my coffee, when I'm forced to act the role at times at work (because it would TRULY hurt my pocketbook), when I talk with my brother, my parents, my in-laws, my old friends, and on and on and on and on and on and on. I'm so sick of every little thing reminding me and plaguing my mind that I left the church.
I guess it doesn't help living in Utah county. When in the hell are these gnawing thoughts on the back of brain going to end? Ever? It's been over a f***ing year. I packed up my family and moved from Provo to north Utah county with some relief. I like my job, the outdoors, and my few friends that agree with me. I've created a gap between everyone else including my family and friends. It's not just their fault, I have a hard time being around them because I have trouble making conversation with them. I'm putting on this happy face trying to do my best with conversation like I'm still the same guy when I know they think I've been deceived, that I influenced my wife, and my kids will be lost now.
I've thought about going back to the Mormon church just to say "what the hell it was the culture I was brought up in." There's no way that would work. Listening to all the bullshit, being asked to read from the manual from some previous dumbass prophet, listening to fast and testimony meetings, and all the other stuff.
The only way to describe what I'm feeling is like a long marriage that ended in divorce. I miss the comfort of the spiritual, purposeful, black and white relationship that I once had. If my wife committed adultery on me and never told me then I would never go through the mental anguish. But once I found out she did commit adultery I would now have that knowledge that would plague my mind and I would never be the same. Same situation with the church. I know the bitch has lied to me and I will never trust again. Yes, I have found "truth" in that the church is not true but what do I have now? I guess I'm divorced religiously and free to choose anything like Christianity, Muslim, Catholicism, even Atheism. So when one of my daughters jump up on my lap and asks "Dad, where do we go when we die?" I can say "Gee sweetheart, we are just dust in the wind." What kind of crazy f**ked up situation is this? It never would have happened if I didn't go on a mission and go to Ricks, find a wife, marry in the temple, and takemy five kids to church for years. It creates confusion to regret choices but those choices channeled me into the direction of having a great wife and kids.
So what the hell is an exmormon to do? Should I quit my job that I like, sell my house that I like, and leave to start anew? The risk of leaving, lying awake at night, not liking the change, and regretting really concerns me. Will it even help? I know it's more than the physical location but will that help mentally? Do I just need to stick it out and stay longer? This is so complex with so many approaches and opinions but which one is right for my family and I? All I know is that I'm soooooooooo sick of the nights of talking with the wife trying to figure out this mess just to go to sleep and wake up to those fruit of the looms in the mirror the next day.
| I am finding it quite amazing how much more I cherish life and mankind since my apostacy.
While I am not sure if there is life after death I have observed that in my TBM days when I was certain that there IS life after death, I was a very lazy person emotionally.
Meaning, I used my knowledge of a life after death to let myself off the hook. I used it as a safety net. If I had a spat with a family member, that was okay, we'd make up in the hereafter and I would emotionally put that person on the "back burner". I put anything and everything I was too lazy to address emotionally into my "life after death" basket. I would have the opportunity to deal with it then. (In between being on that celestial conveyer belt popping out all those babies, heeeeheee)
Since my apostacy, that "safety net" has been removed. I admit it causes me anxiety. However, it has enabled me to grasp and cherish EACH MOMENT I AM ALIVE! Each person I come into contact with has more value. Each opportunity that presents itself, good AND bad, offers so much more value.
I have never ever in my life valued mankind and nature as much as I do now. Boy, was I missing out!!!! I know it is up to ME and me alone to find peace during my stay on earth.
If there is no hereafter who cares, right? WRONG! It has made me care so much more because I want to experience all that I can out of this life. It may be the only one I get.
| Sometimes when we have been speaking with a TBM, or receive a reply to a letter we are left thinking: "WTF was all that about?"
We say sometime or wrote something that seems fairly innocuous and inoffensive, yet a TBM will have taken umbrage and really gone off on one.
For example in late November I decided that I should write a letter to my mother pointing out that after nearly 25 years it was time for her to realise that my non-Mormonism wasn't "just a phase" I was going through, that as I had met my wife a long time after I had stopped being a Mormon that it was unfair to continue blaming her for the fact that I was not a Mormon and had not "returned to the flock."
I reminded her that I had prayed about Mormonism being the "one, true church" and had received an answer from God that it wasn't. I also pointed out that one of the last straws that finally helped break my faith in Mormonism was a remark made at a Priesthood session at a Stake conference by a General Authority. Yes the letter was designed to be forthright and somewhat firm, yet it was loving and kindly, too.
The two letters I received from my mother in reply, on the other hand, were rude, sarcastic, and very unkind and deeply hurtful. Unkindness to me I could tolerate. What I could not tolerate was her being unkind to my wife in the letters. My wife's "sin?" Being a Doctor of Theology and also a Catholic. (How dare she?!)
My mother also denied the reason why I left the Mormon church saying: "We know the REAL reason why you left!" Well, actually, mother, that was the real reason why I left. Any other explanations are pure conjecture based on gossip and lies. Lies from a particularly evil person who had issues with me, but that's another story, and although my mother knew the person concerned to be a liar, she magically accepted everything bad that he had to say about my wife and I when he became a Mormon! -Funny that, how one day he is an evil liar and the next day a wonderful chap! But because he had been baptised a Mormon she would rather believe him than her own son...
Also, my mother denied that what I told her about what the General Authority said. Even though it was during a Priesthood session so she hadn't been there, so was talking codswallop.
She told me that my letter had ruined her Christmas. Even though I had sent her the letter a month before Christmas. The two letters she sent me a week or so before Christmas was obviously designed to spoil my Christmas, but I tried not to let that happen.
I then spent weeks going through self-analysis, trying to understand why my letter had received such a vile, nasty response.
Eventually I realised that I had made a mistake that I think many ex-Mormons might make, especially if we have been outside Mormonism for a long time.
It is a mistake to treat our TBM family and friends as if they were real, ordinary people.
Why a mistake? Because they are not real, ordinary people. They are members of an evil, mind-moulding cult.
Over time we forget that we were taught that Catholics are followers of the Whore of Babylon, that every member of the Church of England are deluded fools, that Methodists are no better, that atheists are tools of the Devil and that everything that happens in the world is, in some way, "all about Mormons."
So, we treat our TBM family members and our TBM friends (always presuming we have any TBM friends after being outside the Morg for so long) as we would real, ordinary people.
And they react as if we had kicked them in the crotch or urinated in the Morg baptismal font. Why? Because they are unable to really, truly function in decent, normal society.
I think that now I know why, as my TBM parents became more and more steeped in the weirdness of Mormonism why their nevermo relatives slowly but surely reduced the number of visits from every other month right down to zero, over the years.
| OR: why there is this Recovery Board and why I call it The Exit Process from Mormonism:
In the past few years, I have given a lot of thought to how Mormonism gains it's power, and gets people to do things and wear special clothes and generally takes over one's life, even getting people to die for their religion.
I have made a few observations and conclusions that have been ruminating in my mind, even pondering! :-) This is mostly about the misuse of guilt, and it's power and how it sustains Mormonism. Here goes!
Mormonism, and religion in general, are corporations of one sort or another that has to maintain a solid financial base and a highly controlled authoritative superstructure. They count on members complying with emotional attachments to their demands.
This is not about facts, it never was. It is totally and completely about an emotional bond to a belief by faith.
In regard to human relations: religion in general, and Mormonism specifically teaches that you are to be more concerned about how someone else feels that you are about what they did to you.
As a believer, you are the one to feel guilty and apologize and say you are sorry, if you are hurt by someone else. I see this behavior within the religious community much more so than anywhere else.
Mormonism specifically, and Christianity in general (my upbringing) taught me that I was expected to be feel guilt -- a lot! I never could figure out why I was expected to feel guilty for what someone else did to me.
In the Mormon Church, being intensely involved, committed and active, I noticed that anyone could "take offense" at something totally out of the blue, and it was my fault, I was to apologize, and feel sorry and guilty and repent.
That was bizarre nonsense that never made sense to me, especially invasive interviews by bishops and others in leadership who made it clear it was their job as a male to set any female straight that did not get in line and keep their face turned toward their inspiration. ARG! More guilt!
It seemed to me that no one took responsibly for "taking offense," it was all about making themselves feel better for getting someone else to feel bad.
As a believer, you are expected to give an explanation of all of your actions, feelings, etc. This gets to be a habit with Mormons and when someone does not give an explanation, it is seen as some kind of sin of omission.
If your explanation does not satisfy some intrusive invasive interview -- more guilt! Can you say: "Cognitive Dissonance," boys and girls?
It is obvious that using guilt is a manipulation technique to get people to do as they are told in the Mormon Church works well. Do as they are told is the core of their power. You don't want to disappoint Heavenly Father, then you would feel guilty, and around and around it goes.
When I realized that Mormonism is a bunch of huge corporations that only has one bottom line -- money, it all started to make sense.
To be a believer in Mormonism, you must commit to all kinds of commandments, requirements, expectations, time commitments, in addition to all kinds of restraints to prove your allegiance and devotion and love for Heavenly Father. And of course, there is no way to meet all of these demands, so you are to feel guilt and repent, and keep on the merry-go-round!
Once I realized that "Heavenly Father" in Mormonism meant: keep the money coming in through guilt, I refused to allow them into my pocketbook again! Of course, all that lying from the get-go and selling the hoax of "Golden Plates" and the Book of Mormon fiction played heavily into closing off the money flow!
It took several years for me to really understand the scope of the all-inclusive realm of the corporate power of Mormonism and all the subtle ways they use guilt.
The promise of "Families are Forever and Eternal Life," with it's overt and covert misuse of the temple rituals, to extract money from it's members is an ingenious use of religious attachments and bonds to guarantee that the members keep the money coming in.
Religion as a corporation holds huge emotional power over people. You could take most of the so-called commandments out of Mormonism, except an emotional commitment to tithing and contributions, and it would not be able to survive, at least not for long.
It might survive as a corporation owing property, but not as an international religion. I have yet to find a religion that does not operate this way to some degree. No money -- no churches, No churches, no power over people.
In order for Mormonism, or any other church organization to stay in power is to use it's money as a base to own things -- including the members. The best ones demand a total commitment, such as Mormonism does in the temple, then it provides just enough incentives to make the commitment worth while.
As a member of the Mormon Church you work for them full time (note temple covenants to give all that you have or will have, etc.) and you pay them for the privilege. That is ingenious!
And, for this membership in the Mormon Church, you get to follow their polices for behavior and be restricted to what you drink and wear and do. And do it happily and with joy!
The benefits of being a member of "the only true church" are "eternal life," some special elitist underwear (sacred skivvies), the use of a few buildings; temples being a little fancier than the run of the mill institutional styled Ward and Stake houses.
There are other "perks" of course; some of which are reduced rates on education (if you comply with their restrictions) and housing, cars, etc., for some of the leaders, and shopping at the Lord own department stores and malls -- such as Cottonwood Mall in SLC. I am sure there are more, that others here can think of!:-)
I would say, that for me, (and probably most people) breaking the code to the emotional attachment and bond to Mormonism's grasp is the key to removing it's power through the misuse of guilt.
That code is so subtly and overtly implanted that it is more difficult to break for some than for others.
It is, from my observation, that power struggle, that causes the most frustration and anger in that code-breaking process. Taking our power back from the church is a huge battle.
And, extracting ourselves from the subtle tentacles of Mormonism's clutches mentally, socially, physically, psychologically, spiritually is a very long process for many of us.
It is difficult to break the habit of feeling guilty, giving explanations to anyone who asks, saying you are sorry, among a lot of other behaviors and twisted thought patterns.
For me, I have found that reducing the negative impact of any part of Mormonism with lots of humor has worked extremely well in taking my power back and owning it completely.
And to do that, I keep myself removed from it's physical presence as much as possible, (do not attend any Mormon function, etc.) and reduce it's power mentally, by not giving it any credibility.
It simple is not worthy (don't you love the way the Mormons use that word?) of my belief.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice sham on me!
This is my road trip. Your mileage may vary!
In the theme of this thread, how do you take your power back and what does it mean to you?
| I briskly marched up to the concrete walkway with my hard soled loafers making aandnbsp;clean "clack clack clack" sound that echoed off the masonry comprising the south side of the chapel walls. It was such a cold night. I noted how my breath billowed out of my mouth as I climbed the stairs that led me past the chapel and up to the standard issue, black-metal framed double doors that served to welcome all who did not question. These doors were also housed in masonry walls. The walls had been secure and unquestioned emblems of fortitude for me all these years... it's a bit strange to have to try to mentally reassign them as walls of a prison of sorts now. What was loyally perceived as a stronghold of safety and certainty was now a precariously collapsable house of cards. My breath was heavy and I was annoyed that I had given up my chance to ride my mountain bike in the hills for this. I saw him getting out of his volvo. He looked my way for half a moment but made no gesture. Seeing my breath, He probably assumed I was smoking. He did have that pained expression of "Well, this is awkward" written across his face. Whatever. I knew he would instinctively do a S.O.P. worthiness tobacco sniff test and be satisfied. Not that it mattered anyhow. |
So it was that I had once again been summoned by the powers that be for the, seemingly, now quarterly confrontation with said powers. The inquisition. The gut check. The subtle yet dexterous reminder that I was to submit to his authority. I could almost set my watch by the summons. That awkward, out of the blue phone call from him, the weirdness of the chit chat, the poignant reminders that we should talk and in fact would next Tuesday fit in my schedule? I never see this man other than our visits. I had imagined my name was carefully placed in this man's black Franklin planner 120 days sequentially and systematically throughout his year. It couldn't be this synchronously timed otherwise. I could also imagine my name etched in the color coded pencil that he also used for scripture marking but my name was assigned a color likely to stand as a sentinel, "problematic, must deal with". No doubt he used the same color for my name as he uses to annotate all of God's scriptural warnings to the heathens. I wondered if he anxiously pressed hard when he wrote my name into his book of life. I was bothered by the fact that I was the reason his wife and kids would not see him tonight. This man feigned concern over my condition so well I almost believed him. Almost. Anyhow, such pictorial editing in my mind amused me and set my mind at ease for what was about to ensue.
I wondered if he dreaded our meetings as much as I did.
"Well, here we are..." He started.
"Yes, we are here" I replied, thoughtlessly.
"I am glad we have met tonight, I ... ah... would like to just let you know that... uh....I mean what I would like to begin with is... ah.... I should ask you a few questions."
Obviously, he is in a stupor of thought, I thought to myself, At least we aren't starting this one out with a word of prayer to his God.
Probing, he asked in an almost upbeat tone, "Any progression since we last spoke?".
I played along, "You mean with my testimony?"
Hesitating, he offered, "Yes, uh... we last spoke about Joseph's sexual ... uh... relations with women outside of Emma..."
I said without enthusiasm, "...And you concurred that you believed Joseph did indeed have sex outside of Emma..."
All in one breath and with an odd smile he quipped, "Mike, I said that Joseph restored the Gospel of Jesus Christ to earth and if his sexual actions are found outside the bounds that the Lord has set, then in the next life, he will have to answer for those sins. I also said that his having sex outside of Emma does not preclude the fact that he restored the True and Everlasting Gospel to the earth."
I responded quickly to give the air that I was almost ignoring his explanations, " I guess I have progressed then. I have taken your affirmation and boldly used it as fuel to fire up the passion to find if Smith was deceitful in other ways."
I could see that was the not the answer he was looking for.
"Hmmm...", he doled out thoughtfully.
"Hmmmm...." as if vocally pausing would salvage the situation.
Finally he asked, "Well then, where are you with all of this?"
Careful now Mike, caution.... caution, you are entering the "self-incrimination" zone. One wrong sentance and you could jeopardize it all.
I answered, "Well, I have to say that I am caught between the church, my wife, my kids, everyone's future, and a moral imperative that says I should be true when truth emerges. You see... others have been braver than I in the past and have sacrificed their lives for truth. What I am being asked to risk pales in comparison. But the founding fathers of this country set in motion the events that would ensure I would be able to think, do and be how I see fit. I can pursue life liberty and happiness based upon logical conclusions that all facts tell me... while not having to lap up some presented dogmatic approach to living handed down to me from my parents and perpetuated by peers of the same like minded tribe"
Hell. That sounded too rehearsed. Shit. What did he expect me to do? Blast at him from the hip with nothing prepared?
He surprised me with a outright chuckle, I felt the mood change to one where he was now a playful uncle who loved nothing less than to give me noogies on the top of my head. He blurted out, "...Mike, Mike, Mike! How is The Spirit ever going to get through that thick skull of yours if you are always resisting it like this?" Was it an attempt to get on my level? What was that?
I cringed. Out came the quad. 20 bucks says he goes for Galations. He did not bother to ask me where mine was this time. Last time he acted so shocked that I had failed to bring my scriptures to a private meeting with him. I had hedged in defense with how I was unaware that it was disrespectful to not carry my scriptures with me to meetings with him. Sure enough though, he flipped open to the first battalion of artillery to start the night off. Galations. The fruits of the spirit.
My heart quickened. I knew what needed to be done. Now or never! Geez us. Was I really going to do this? I found strength. I am sure my eyes dilated and I felt my breathing increase slightly...blood rushed into my head and my temples pounded just slightly.
He paused when he saw me fishing around for my wallet in my back pocket. I did not appreciate the pause as it created an unatural focus on what I was doing. I had seen it in my mind's eye more inconspicous and fluid than this. The cushioned relief society chair squeaked under my weight shifting torso as I sent my fingers on the daunting task of producing the lynch pin that held all the ultimatums presently in front of me at bay. I found access into my back pocket. That's strange, why had I buttoned it? I never button it. I produced the small rectangle piece of paper. This rectangular declaration once held by me as a sacred emblem of my willingness to submit all of my wills, desires, passions, beliefs to the god or godlessness who produced it now served only as a hollow reminder that I still belonged to some thing I did not believe in anymore... and that practically no one knew it but myself. I noted a tremble in my fingers as I brought it to light. It hadn't been used for a session in over three years. I had told half truths to get it nine months prior. And the man in front of me was the recipient of my misdirection. Oddly, I felt afraid of relinquishing it. I thought I was past all this. How could I just give it up? I had sworn and sealed my swearing with the life blood of my mortal existance that I would uphold what this rectangle represented. I had done so over 50 times in the last 15 years.
Confronting the finality of the situation, I placed it on his 4 foot by 8 foot faux mahogany desk and sent it sliding quickly across towards him. It flipped up and over acrobatically displaying playfulness as it flew in his direction landing squarely between his hand and his well marked book of scripture. I stifled a smile as I processed a quick mental note that went something to the effect that the unannounced flip meant I had turned some corner in my life. Turning over a new leaf?
There was a moment of silence that I found also fitting for the moment. I fancied we were giving respect for the dead. A funeral for the moment gave way to the realization that I was forevermore done with dogma. There was no turning back now. I had crossed over. The silence was engulfed, however, in an annoyingly loud buzzing hum of the overhead fluorescent lights. How had I missed that noise the last three times in this office? It was deafening.
Walking out of that office I noticed that the texture in the carpet was the same as the scratchy yet durable kid proof fabric covering on the walls. Everything was a shade of drab brown. The popcorn ceiling blended into the sameness as did the bumps and randomness in the bricks. It was all so obviously and overwhelmingly... the same. No deviations. No accenting colors. No focal points. No punch. No pizaz. No flair. Barely any art on the walls. Just one, no frills, meshing, sameness of fabric texture and pattern. How symbolic. I noticed for the first time that the picture of Jesus was half the size as the first presidency's photo on the wall outside his office. I also noted that there was a 1" gap between the hard commercial grade carpet and the bottom of the door. This meant that the three persons waiting for their turn to speak with this man tonight had likely heard our entire discussion. I hoped they took notes.
I walked into the chapel for what I new would be the very last time. I almost wished for some shaking or shocking visitational outpouring to warn me of the error of my ways. Perhaps that would ring out to me Alma the Younger-esque. But I knew, intuitively now, that it would not come. I sat down. I took it all in. Imagine that... just over three cognicent decades of my life spent in weekly attendance here. This was the factory. The machinery that ran this place and produced the feelings that led me down the paths towards my habits of thought inbreeding... was broken now. Strange how it could break for me yet run flawlessly for hundreds of others who showed up to feed it, oil it, prop it up and polish it every week. I noted how the chapel took on a different persona being empty like this. I am used to being surrounded when I am here. I feel out of place now. Where are all those same people talking the same, acting the same, dressing the same, being the same, charting the same undeviatingly devoted same course, even sitting in the same place week after week? with the same food storage and the same monthly editorials delivered to their doorsteps? Where were they? It was as if the level of sameness between them, this building and the factory had grown so absurdly evolved that the four walls of this factory consumed them entirely. They were here. I could feel them. Yet they were not.
I allowed my thoughts to wander.
No new converts ever broke into the sameness of this machine. Or if they tried, they were spit out and simultaneously rejected. They were not the same. Sure, the more headstrong ones lasted a couple of years, but they eventually quit trying to break in. Admittedly, a few made it over the hump but were exceptions to the rule. Over the years, I gathered it was the quirky comments they offered up in classes, wearing the wrong clothes, or obvious lack of proper breeding that did it in for them. Nevertheless, I had to hand it to them now for following some sort of heartfelt conviction. Admirable. Misguided, but admirable. Sitting there alone, without the propaganda machine spinning the hits... the oldies but goldies, I paused to see what would come to me.... if anything.
I picked up a hymnal. Nice. Some mother had allowed her child to use it as a coloring book.
Anything else come? Yes. A powerful loathing for this place that had tricked me into giving up some of the best years of my existence for a sham cause call to arms. A pungent recognition that I had now become vastly different than everything in this factory washed over me.
I wanted to scream. Instead I stood up, stood tall, and turned my back. I walked away from the machine... the factory. I let it spit me out.
| So far since officially leaving, the shadow of Mormonism is never far away, Whether it is meeting people who are from or going to Utah, speaking with family members who are still TBM, or bumping into my own recollections and memories of growing up and dealing those peculiar people.
My partner and I have been fortunate to travel a lot this summer. We spent time in Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, the Czech Republic, and Hungary - six countries, total. Why there's still a comparison of anything to Mormonism, I don't know, but it's there in me, everywhere we went.
The Segrada Familia is a cathedral in Spain that started construction in the late 1800's that has five soaring spires on one end and a dramatic facade on the other, and the central spire is not complete yet. The LDS temple in downtown SLC would fit inside the Segrada, easily. There's a metro station right near the cathedral. Tour buses and tourist by the thousands queue up to enter this beloved icon of Spain and go through the edifice while construction workers continue their slow progress. Christ was the focus, the celebration, the passion of the artists and the people. The memory of the LDs temple, to me, was simple, small, secretive and plain.
Rome is sprawling and gorgeous with low lying buildings surrounded by seven notable hills. It was eerie, standing on the hill where Paul was crucified. We spent half a day in the Vatican City, overwhelmed by the ancient artwork and splendor. When I lived in Utah, I heard rumors that the Catholic church was almost bankrupt and that the LDS church must be true because it was so rich. I absolutely disagree after seeing the priceless and timeless artwork, the thousands of people touring and experiencing the history and richness of the Vatican City. The richness itself was disturbing. If Jesus was one of the social liberals of his day, he would be appalled at the spiritual equivalent of the Pope in Tinseltown, Italy. ExMormons can complain about the focus of tithing and money of the LDS church, but the Catholic church is the true juggernaut of greed and worldly possessions. In the crypts below the main church, we say the sarcophagus of Pope John Paul - there were scores of people in line, waiting to pass by and pay their respects, many making the sign of the cross, some kneeling in prayer, and some even weeping quietly. When LDS prophets die, do Mormons weep or go on with business as usual?
Istanbul, Turkey, is massive. Eleven plus million people live there. I had partially expected this place to be the most problematic, one because we were a gay group going into the city, and two, because I didn't know what to expect of a Muslim country. This place we'll definitely be going back to - it was incredible, surprisingly liberal, and socially progressive. We learned that among strict Muslims, the Turks are not well liked because the Turkish Muslims do not follow the desert rules: women walking six feet behind her husband, women wearing the burqas, etc. The people were friendly and charming. One of the first things our tour guide told us was that they would not mention buildings or sites that were less than 400 years old, because those were considered "new" buildings. We toured a cistern that was next-to and under a 1400 year old mosque that had been the water storage site for the royal grounds. The 300 stone pillars that held it up had been taken or plundered from Greek and Roman sites. Supposedly, 700 pillars stood under the mosque, but they have not been uncovered. It struck me that the main religious groups of the area, Christian and Muslim, had basically stolen, conquered and remodeled each other's works for centuries. A Christian church taken over - the marble, the artwork and the murals covered over in the tiles to turn the buildings into mosques, and vice versa. Both of the groups tearing down Greek and Roman temples and using the materials for construction of their new sites.
Lastly, Greece put the Mormon pioneer accomplishments into perspective for me. While Mormons may have run from the Law because of their peculiar practices, who may have toiled with failed hand cart endeavors, and wanted to setup their own spiritual outpost at the edge of a great dead salt lake, the Greeks had running water in 1500 BC. Running water 1500 years before the coming of Christ. When I remember that a good TBM friend once mentioned how visionary the prophets were, because they included elevator shafts in the LDS temple years before electric elevators were invented, I have to laugh. Manual pulleys and manual elevators doesn't make the prophets visionary, it makes them practical. To their credit, the SLC LDS temple is a great work considering their resources at the time. It's not Delphi, the Parthanon, the Acropolis, the leaning tower of Pisa, the Vatican, the Segrada Familia, the Parliament House of Budapest, or the Blue Mosque. Will Mormonism even be around in 100 to 200 years? If they think (and hope) it's the latter days and they'll be gone soon, I wish them godspeed.
| I recently saw a presentation on IBM's WebFountain, and if the Strengthening The Members Committee (STMC) isn't already signed up, they ought to seriously have their heads examined. Anyway, the presentation definitely got the gears turning in my evil apostatemind as to what the would do with a WebFountain account. And let's be honest. $300K/year for an account would be peanuts to the COB.
As an STMC lurker, I would want a way to #1, compile my own mirrored archives of problem sites. But #2, I would want a way to create dossiers for high-profile posters, especially those who may be closet apostates who need to be weeded from the fold. In fact, if they were smart, the STMC and the Marketing/Branding folks could and should combine their efforts to determine not only what the evil apostates are saying about them, but the TBM's as well.
Now we all know that Aimoo and RfM have pretty crappy "Search" capabilities. From the STMC's perspective, the cyber infospace presents a constantly moving target, in the guise of changing casts of screen names, avatars, and alter egos. Not to mention all of those "true but not useful" discussions. And WRT sites like RFM, you have window on only the last two weeks worth of postings.
I'm just a poorboy, and can't afford a WebFountain account. But I do happen to have a full-meal deal version of Adobe Acrobat 7.0 installed on my desktop that I've been playing around with. It has a cool feature that will let you create PDF documents from a website. You can specify the URL you want to pull down, as well as how many levels deep you want the program to pull HTML and images from.
So just for giggles, I turned Acrobat loose on RfM, and the Foyer recently. Once properly configured, you can close down the Acrobat window and let it do its thing, while you go about your regular business. About 20 minutes later, both sites were indexed, to the tune of about 600 pages of text and images, and about 7.5 MB.
And the beauty of this is that you then have a PDF document that you can turn loose Acrobat's catologuing and search features. I figure you could probably pretty easily set about XML-tagging text you wanted to be able to use to perform statistical trend analysis, or for dossier building.
Foreign Policy magazine has a teaser cover this month, looking at future trends, along the lines of "Say goodbye to..."
The most relevant article was called "Say goodbye to anonymity."
OTOH, it will be interesting to see if TSCC follows corporate trends and jumps on the bandwagon. Or, as is more likely, whether they are late technology adopters.
| If this is you, if you do not get how manipulative the church system is with regards to sexual purity... here is a true to life example as to why the masturbation saga keeps resurfacing. It warps the mind and self-esteem of many young people who live through it. After writing this, I am done with this topic for a good long while... too painful to keep rehashing.
What is that sound?
pause.... tap tap, tap tap.... pause....
It grew louder as I practically leaned off the edge of my chair to hear for it. Then it dawned on me. Cripes. When did he start walking with a cane? Luckily, being a man of god will show him restraint and he won't try to beat me with it.
The hallway was dark. The activity in the gymnasium around the corner had just begun on this Saturday night. I would rather be playing basketball tonight than having to sit through this next hour. Heck, I would rather be doing my homework than to sit through this dreadful meeting.
"Well, hello Mike. Glad you could make it. Sorry I am late", said the man.
"...'sallright" I mumbled, unsure if this really was allright.
Here we go again. The mental self-chastisement resurfaced... the naggings screamed out at me as I got up out of my chair:
What was wrong with me? Why the repeated trips to this office? Why was I the only one sitting here in this hallway? No one else had this terrible habit. I hated myself for it. I hated that I would be sitting shamefully with my family again during the sacrament. I hated that I, the youth of Zion, had indeed faltered yet again in unworthiness.
I followed him into his office. The room was already hotter than the midday sun during double sessions at football practice. I had thought I would start this school year off strong and in control. I was wrong. Just like the other years. I took the obligatory seat across from him and his four foot by eight foot faux mahogany desk. I sat in this chair every Sunday in our sixteen year old Priest quorum group discussions.
This judge in Israel fumbled through his papers. I knew he pretended to look for something that was not there.
I could tell he already knew. He always knew. It was his job to know. As Christ's representative for His congregation, it was his responsibility to be in tune with the spirit enough to know these things. God gave him these powers of discernment. So of course he knew!
With that thought I blushed out of anger and self-deprecation. Dang it! Stop already! No good. Crossing oneself never worked. I would just have to sit there blushing, humiliated and ashamed that I had failed to honor my priesthood ... again.
He took off his glasses, and forcefully rubbed the spot we priests jokingly called "The Unibrow". It was as if the glasses had irritated him profusely. But, I knew why he was irritated. He had to come all the way to the church after a warm meal with his family to talk about my lame problems. Leave his life and address mine. All because I could not seem to control myself. How pathetic was that. What in the heck was wrong with me?
He drew in a deep breath and he looked at me as he held it momentarily. Suddenly, In a heavy and drawn out exhalation of air out from his lungs he began:
He peered over the top of his glasses,
"Young man, how is your priesthood holding up? Bright and shiny?".
It was a friendly tone he used but there wasn't a smile attached to it.
And I wished he would not breathe out like that. He had very offensive breath. How could he not know that his breath was that bad? I had heard his question and I was stunned. Fixating on the smell did not stave off the awkward pause in the room.
I also noted he got right to the point this time. Obviously, I hadn't heeded well enough his advice in the past. I put out spotty performance in responding valiantly in past visits.
No chit chat this time? No how is your 3.5 grade point average coming along... any new songs on the piano? or even how was football practice today? The man was all star defensive lineman in high school, loves the game, and he can't even recognize that I am something other than a troubled kid with a jerk off problem. He came at me straight out of the chutes. Ruthless.
"uh... I... uh... I wasn't... uh... valiant"
I gripped the sides of my chair so hard that a raised rogue staple in the upholstery under the right arm dug into my cuticle. That hurt. The dam broke. Tears welled up. I had told myself I would not cry. Where were the tissues? He always had tissues on his desk in that crocheted white funky tissue box cover of his. He made no move to console me. He never did so I did not expect it. I hated crying. It was just that I was so humiliated. I was so inexplicably frustrated. At least I didn't sob. I wiped the lower rims of my eyes to dry up any rogue tears that tried to escape down my face. I had to maintain some dignity some how.
"Mike. You really have got to get past this. We have been through the steps of repentance before. Where do you see yourself missing the mark?"
Missing the mark? Geez. I have no clue. I have done everything he had asked and then some. I had prayed my guts out so many times, so many ways.
A flash back to three weeks ago entered and left my head.
I had done some high powered serious soul searching.
I sought from the depths of my soul the cleansing power of the atonement. After all, it was the 2nd principle of Christ's Gospel. I knew that Nephi taught that there is no temptation save the lord prepares a way for us to escape it. That only served to confirm how I knew I was the problem. I also knew I only needed faith the size of a mustard seed and then I could be empowered to overcome as Jesus declared in the New Testament. He said we could move mountains with that tiny particle of faith. I was not looking to move a mountain, I was looking to climb one.
I had a specific purpose in mind when I climbed Mount Toro. I wanted to follow Nephi's example and use it to get nearer to god. At least, that was my plan. I figured somehow the physical act could show God I was serious about this desperate pleading I kept offering.
Joseph departed to his grove, I would have my mountain.
When I summited, I wasted no time. I had played it out ten times in my head as I hiked over the last two hours. The top of this mountain would be my temple. My secret sanctuary. My altar of sacrifice.
No sooner did I realize that I was suddenly about to address my Heavenly Father with the one item I longed to be banished from my life than my heart spilled over. My heart leaped into my throat as I felt every ounce of genuine sincerity inside of me get called to attention. I was racked with remorse and I fell to my knees with my hands gripping the roots of my hair. I practically doubled over as I shouted my prayer in halted jerking sobs.
"Oh... my... God!" I cried out in pain. "I am so sorry to bring this before you! I know you healed the blind! Won't you consider healing my heart?"
Looking back, I believe I shouted so that I would be sure God would have to hear his begging child.
There was no anger in my tones, in fact, much of my noise got carried away on the windy breeze slipping by me in the trees. Nevertheless, my prayer gushed out of me as I begged for a change of heart.... as I implored my maker to fix me. I told him my fears, my secret insecurities, my most inner thoughts. I was willing to do whatever I could to achieve His holy assistance in getting this mess behind me.
He made me, he could fix me. How could he not see I was doing everything and more for this to happen? All that was missing was his providential hand.
Suddenly, I felt physical pain in my heart when I realized that as a sinner, God could cleanse me as decreed in his holy word. All it took was a particle of faith to get that set in motion! But another condition for the cleansing was that I realize significantly the gravity of guilt played out from causing God's son torturous pain in the garden of Gethsemane. I had to own up to the fact that I placed a burden on the son of God that only he could expiate.
The beginnings of that thought sent me into absolute horror as I contemplated my role. I had been taught that Jesus died for my sins. I was now experiencing the depth and breadth of that concept. I was feeling the torture... maybe this was the cleansing power I sought! There was a calm that quieted my anguished sobs. I reflected on how I felt inside. It was nothing huge, but yet it was huge. I had contemplated my part in the great plan of salvation and had been overcome with unspeakable emotion. But that was how God worked, right? I stood up a moment later from my absolution, firmly resolved in my mind that God had answered my prayer.
"Huh?..." I blinked. My eyes were dry, I must not have blinked for awhile.
"Mike, you were far away there for a few seconds.... I was just asking if you could see where maybe you are missing the mark in the repentance process"
I think he could have gut punched me and I would not have flinched as hard as I did with his question.
I knew I had not missed the mark. Yet, obviously I had. I was so confused. I wanted to relate the story but it seemed sacrilegious to do it. I had my communion with the highest holiest being in the universe... and I had failed Him yet again! How could I possibly explain what happened to me on the mountain when I just admitted to him that I am ground zero again? It would seem like I perhaps enjoyed torturing the Son of God.
That is a sick, sick, vile thought Mike. What is WRONG with you? Do you enjoy it? No I don't enjoy it dang it. I am just a weird guy with a weird problem.
But was there truth to it? I had my epiphany. And I had just as quickly backslid not even three weeks later. No wonder God wouldn't change me. Being God, He knew I was just going to mess up again anyways. I did not deserve the cleansing blood of His son in my life. Such changes only come to those with pure intent and sincere repentance.
I walked out of the office, physically ill from my plight. My church authority figure in my life gently emphasized to me that when I sin in the way that I have been, all the former sins thus repented of return to me.
Oh. That was not what I needed to hear. But that was what God's message through his mouthpiece to me was on this late summer's night...
I drove home with my window open. The night air on my face helped to calm my stomach. I pulled up to the house and sat in my car for a minute. The "lights are on" chime dinged in my ears but I could not hear it... or at least I was so fixated on my problems that the noise's significance failed to register. I walked up to the back door. I was greeted cheerfully by my mother whom I ignored as I slipped past her, zombie like, towards the stairs leading up to my room. I closed the door. I climbed into bed. I thought the forbidden thoughts of giving up, giving in, ending it all. Forbidden. Doing that would make things even worse for me.
| I sent an email to one of my TBM recently returned sister missionary friends, telling her that I left the church, and why. I got quite an interesting response from her, and her dad (who doesn't even know me but is a Stake President). Apparently they are heartbroken, and wish I would stop making waves (not her words)
Here is part of her dad's email to her about me.
"Disassociating herself from the church was a big mistake. The church is the only refuge from this kind of activity and biggest enemy Satan has. It is the only organization that will be able to ultimately destroy Satan's work hear on the earth and will rule during the millennium. We all need to support it and follow it's teachings now more than ever. When we abandon it because some of it's members are bad we are only letting Satan win. He will then have us too."
They just won't see anything they don't want to. I am still stunned by the extent of their brainwashing. Too bad I will be in outer darkness while they are in the celestial kingdom!
| Is it just me or does there seem to be some connection between ward clerks and apostasy? In my case I think so. I've been sitting on the back bench peering into the foyer long enough, so it's time for me to walk into the foyer and join the growing crowd. Over the last year I've been doing a lot of self-examination (good idea Socrates) and have come to the conclusion that I never truly was a TBM even though I may have played one at church. My parents were inactive until I was about 12, at which point my father became ultra active. As a result, I missed out on much of the essential indoctrination that occurs at an early age. I rebelled during my later adolescence and swore I would never go on a mission or go to BYU. At 18 I left home and had a change of heart. I ended up going on a mission. Afterwards, I went to BYU and got married in the temple about a year later. My wife and I were inactive during most of our 8 years at BYU. We moved out of Utah, the church tracked us down and we have been active for the last15 years.
Reflecting on my life, although I thought I had a "testimony", I don't think I was ever really convinced. I always felt out of step with the culture of Mormonism. I typically avoided going to socials and have never had any true friends in the church. I always thought that this was due to my differing interests, more liberal thinking or something else wrong with me. It now occurs to me that I have always had questions and doubts and have never really bought into the full program. This would explain why I haven't given my "testimony" in FandT meeting since my mission and why I always felt weird about the temple which I haven't been to in about 10 years, etc. Essentially, in my latest period of activity I've been "dutiful" but low key, avoiding the leadership track (i.e., good ward clerk material).
Anyway, about 8 months ago I decided that I was going to confront my doubts and questions with an open mind and began studying. The rest is history (pun intended). Presently, I am trying to negotiate the rules of disengement with my immediate family being the biggest concern. The foyer has served a valuable purpose in keeping me sane during my studies and the resulting emotional roller coaster. Thanks for being there, and thanks for listening while I rambled.
| I'm writing this as a former TBM wife and mother who just within a couple of months ago, found the truth concerning the church.
During my 44 years of life, I was never taught that I could use my own mind and use my freeagency and be saved in the kingdom of heaven at the same time. Logic and reason come from the carnal self and spirituality comes from the Lord. Make your choice and you would do well to follow the prophet and leaders of the church for they will never lead you astray. The Holy Ghost will be your constant guide ect. ect...
I'm a g g g great grandaughter of Parley P Pratt and I read his Autobiography a couple of years ago and he became one of my heros. I wanted to emulate many of the things he taught in my life and teach them to my kids. I was sailing along in life until one day I watched Dr. Phil's show on Polygamy on a border town near Utah called Colorado City. I was awakened to a curiosity about that subject of polygamy. It has been a source of mental repulsion for me and I knew that the practice originated from guess who? How do they have enough women to go around, I asked myself. Dr. Phil said that the young men were kicked out of town as soon as they became young teenagers. Having a natural tendency to protect young people I looked up the website and found atrocious horror stories of abuse and neglect that go beyond reason! The show was the beginning.
My mother is a woman with a gifted mind, the only college graduate from her siblings (10), and received her education at the cost of squeezing out a little left over grocery budget from my father's hard earned paycheck. She went to the U of U in Utah for a couple of semesters and studied art. I hold her in the highest esteem and regard because of her teaching us to love truth.
Years later while on the phone with her, she could hardly tell me that she had read a book and she thought I should check it out for myself. So I got it. It's called, "An Insider's View of Mormon Origans" by Grant Palmer. The book spread like wildfire to all the truth seekers within my siblings and all who have read it have changed their views about the church except one brother and one brother-in-law. It didn't take long for the foundation of the church to come to pieces and unravel to nothingness when among us we communicated to check out this or that on our computers which brought me to this website.
My husband, having a gifted mind as well, knew that the church was not true since he was a young teen, grew up in Mexico City with his family. He was able to accept the good and leave the bad alone for the full 24 years of our marriage while I tried to live rightously and gave up willingly all my freedom to do what I wanted to do to be obedient, honest leave the earth stains for the blessings of eternity. He is still by my side and is finally glad to be free of the church. I, on the other hand, cannot help but feel enraged and embittered by the mind control and constant pestering from the leaders at this time at trying to take my daughters away from me and trying to make us feel guilty for not going to church.
The book "In Sacred Lonliness" and many other resources on the internet about important historical information is all in easy access. Each thing I read brought to my mind a mental picture of a Joseph Smith, I never had seen before. He was transformed from a beloved prophet to a cult fiend using and abusing his congregants to his adulterous pleasure. The sad twisted picture involved my own ancestors going from great pioneers to poor swindled victims having fallen willingly into a huge scam that sucked the life out of them and spit the women out and forgot their sufferings. Only to move on to more victims and ruining their lives and families, taking the milk from the babies and indoctrinating the girls with mind bruising philosophies.
As soon as I came to this knowledge, which only took a couple of days, I was abhorred and realized that we had been covenanting to the wrong God, threw all my garments away, went through the house and cleaned out all my church literature and magazines and scriptures and shed tears of anguish and saddness.
After the tears came the healing and it ebbs and flows. If I had been able to choose my religion I would have never chosen one based on demoralizing and debasing women.
My two sons live on their own and both are glad to not have to serve missions. I told them they could choose what they wanted to do a few years ago. My daughters are gathering information and making their own decesions. My husband is glad to be free of it all.
I realize now that God is no respecter of persons. He gives his gifts freely to all who seek and his grace is sufficient for all. Interestingly, my Mother told me that she went to visit a church and they sang her favorite LDS hymn, "Come Thou Font". They took that hymn out of the hymn book. That hymn is mostly about the doctrine of grace. While talking about this we came to the conclusion that other verses on the doctrine of grace had been deleted as well. Guilt is taught in it's place for the objective to make slaves of members and instill the idea that the organization comes before the family, thus manipulating the people to deny the self and come unto Christ and serve the church to receive salvation.
Who is the father of lies? Isn't he the great deceiver? Maipulating doctrine, changing scripture, rewriting history? Is Satan a Man of flesh and bone? Who approves of all this going on in the one and only true church on the face of the earth? As soon as I saw it I turned and ran. I just wish that I could have seen it sooner. I would have been able to wear some really cute outfits and underwear and eat out on Sundays and enjoyed my life better and not wasted so much time in the temple.
| What the church offers to men, if you really look at it, is power. This is difficult for me to admit, but I must. At one time, many years ago, this power enticed me. There is nothing giving or forgiving about power. This is the same power that Joseph Smith wanted when he organized the church. The message is never stated, but it is clear. IF you live right and go on a mission, you will be one of the people who can receive power. Von J. Featherstone explained to me on my mission how and outsider could gain power. It was his story, his path. The temple ceremony is about power. Power over men and after death power over worlds. A bishop is not just the shepherd over the ward, he is the power over the ward.
The Mormon Church is selling power. Not just any power, but the power of God. The power to act in the name of God. No one else is selling that. In business you learn that to be successful you need to differentiate your product or your delivery (marketing, service, support). The Mormon Church has a unique product, it is selling it in a unique way and they don’t have to pay the sales force! How could it be any better?
The Mormon Church sets the parameters for inclusion in the inner circle. No one outside the circle ever knows what the criteria are. If you work hard, and do everything right, maybe you can move up a rung on the ladder. There is always a promise, always a carrot. If you do move up, then you are expected to spend more time and energy for the church. You are expected to devote yourself more fully to your master. Is the master God? No, it is the Mormon Church. Make no mistake about it – these things are NOT one and the same as Church leadership would have you believe. It is not the power in the next life that entices people within the church. It is power over the people here and now. You must appear to be humble and giving if you ever want to move to the next level. This is a criterion that is clearly understood. A Bishop must be a model Bishop if he ever wants to be in a Stake Presidency. He must always appear as if the power is not important and he is only doing it as a servant of the Master. But who is the Master again?
| OK, so as some of you know I have been doing a lot of research lately to try and figure why I am so messed up. I was awakened yesterday to the fact that yes, indeed I was raised in a cult. My eyes were opened when I stumbled across the script of the endowment ceremony on the internet. I went through the temple the first time in 1989, visited as much as I could for about two weeks prior to my mission and attended the temple once a week for two months while in the MTC then didn't attend again until after my mission in 1991. I don't ever recall being told that the endowment script changed in 1990 while I was serving the lord on foreign soil. What a shock. I forgot everything about the penalties that were part of the ceremony when I first went through; I mean I totally blocked it out like I never took on the oaths with the penalties. I mean slitting your throat, slicing your chests, cutting open you gut. This is just sick, sick, sick.
And the tough part is that I know what I read on the internet is true. When I was reading, those memories of my first temple visits came flooding back to me. Yap that was me at 19 vowing in front of god to have my throat sliced if I spoke about temple secrets.
In primary, I was one of 2-3 children in our ward to be selected to sing during a Saturday session of General Conference. It was very exciting because we had the privilege of singing two new primary songs that no one had heard yet, but would be in the new primary song book that was getting ready to be published. One of these songs was "I love to see the Temple", the words, as I recall them are: "I love to see the temple; I am going there someday, to feel the Holy Spirit to listen and to pray". I think the words need to be re-written to include the part about vowing to have your body mutilated if you talk about the secrets that go on inside or break any of your covenants. Sorry if this offends anyone, but I am just angry and need to vent.
| Tonight I was enjoying some fresh pressed coffee from my new Starbucks coffee press.
As I sat down to sip the wonderful aroma of a dark roast, my six-year-old daughter jumped up and ask what I was drinking.
"Coffee", I replied and sipped.
"COFFEEE!!!!" She exclaimed, "That is BAD!"
"Really? Says who?"
She shrugged her shoulders and said "I dunno, aaahh CHURCH!"
"Reeaaaahhhhhhllllyyy....." I said putting the cup down. "Sweetie, those people at church do not know what they are talking about. Coffee is NOT bad."
"oh" she said.
"Would you like to try some?"
She sipped a bit, which was warm by now, "MMMmmmmmm! That tastes good!" Yes, it had creamer and sugar in it :)
"So do you think coffee is bad anymore?"
"No way!" She blerted.
"So who is wrong about coffee?"
"They are, the church!" She firmly answered as she ran out to tell her older sister that she just tasted coffee, which brought all of the Porter kids in for a taste!
I hope she blurts out her feelings next time a mindless fool parrots the BS about coffee in Primary again! Can you see her? "Coffee is not bad for you! My daddy let me drink some and it is GOOD!"
Kids. Man I love em :)
| One of the most frustrating, mind bashing, mental numbing things about Mormonism is that it always starts any investigation of its validity with the answer: The Church is True. Even before we know the questions.
No matter what the query is, no matter what the facts are, no matter what the history is, no matter what the evidence is... the church is ALWAYS TRUE. Facts be damned.
This REALITY was one of the most frustrating things I encounter in my epistemological
How can one have a meaningful conversation with a Mormon when the answers to their claims are not debatable?
What experiment for knowledge is valid when only one conclusion or answer is even considered correct before the test begins?
Where would we as a human race be if we all accepted the answers to questions that our fathers had provided us? It is through the process of questions and experimentation that truth is discovered.
Even theories, those sets of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, are not considered to be truth until they have been repeatedly tested. Only then is a theory widely accepted and used to make predictions about other phenomena. But those testing theories never conclude the answer to the experiment prior to the testing of the theory. Even then, once a theory has been accepted as a fact, to remain so, it must continue to be scrutinized continuously. If additional information is found, any fact can be changed to conform to this new knowledge Mormonism does not allow for this...because the answer is always the same no matter what the facts or truth is.
Anyone truly looking for truth would be smart to question the methodology of Mormonism
The practices, procedures, and rules used by Mormons to find truth are marred by their faulty methodology because they start with the answer they want.... and work backwards...i.e. because we know the church is true...then....blah blah blah
Just my thoughts for the day...
| When I was TBM, I was TBM. Miss Molly Mormon, miss don't-do-anything-wrong-or-anything-even-close-unto-it. I looked down on watching Schindler's List because it was rated-R; I looked down on my friends who watched Schindler's List. I was appalled if
I heard about anyone getting drunk in college. I was appalled at anyone getting a nose ring or tongue ring and hiding it in the testing center at YBU. I was highly concerned if DH didn't want to listen to every session of conference. I was disgusted at a guy friend who admitted to me that he'd kissed a couple dozen girls in high school.
In a nutshell, I didn't understand anyone.
And people must have realized that about me, because people cued in pretty quick to my prudishness and simply did not reveal their true selves to me, consciously or unconsciously, I don't know. I never got to know SO MANY people because I was so blind to what people are really like, so focused I was on what they should be.
A close mo friend of mine used to get drunk in high school. I didn't find out until I was ex. Another who is nevermo but has close ties to mormons has read into the church and thinks it's wacko and offensive and exclusive, and here I was wondering if I should ask her to come to church. Now it's like everyone can breathe a little easier around me, unwind a little, be themselves.
Even my relationship with DH was colored by this. Looking back, I see that he was on his way out of the church looooong before me. He was already sick of conference when I was hanging on every word of every session, etc. And I was blind. To my own husband. I didn't want to see it, so I reprimanded.
I find it all profoundly sad. I've missed out on so much of life, of relationships, of human nature. I was so stuck on how things should be, that I never stopped to look at how things are.
I've got a lot of catching up to do.
| We have all suffered that line. Quotes from apostles and such that are ignored by TBM's because he said them and they were not prophets, thus it does not count.
"He was an apostle and was speaking as a man" can now be negated by one simple fact.
So many of the books of the New Testament were letters written by Apostles. They were not prophets were they? So could that mean most of the NT can be thrown out and ignored?
I plan to try this on the misses on one quote. She always says "he wasn't the profit". Well if the quote is thrown out then a good chunk of the bible must also be thrown out.
There is no way they can have a comeback to that.
Tired of their sad defenses.
| When a TBM asks you why you left the Church or have severe doubts about it, you can start by listing many misc. facts that even TSSC will admit to being true. Read a few that I have come up with and please add more that you are aware of.
1. Joseph Smith had many plural wives (more than 20) and many were married to other men as well (even faithful members of the Church). Many of his wives were in their teens and one was even 14. Many, if not most, of these wives were very reluctant and hesitant about entering into plural marriage but agreed after being told it was commanded of God through revelation by Joseph Smith.
2. Emma, Joseph Smith’s first wife, was unaware of most of his plural marriages up to the time of his death and for some time afterward.
3. The official Church version of the “First Vision” of Joseph Smith found in the Pearl of Great Price differs substantially from a hand written version from JS himself in 1832. In the 1832 version, JS does not mention seeing God the Father, nor does he mention asking a question about which church he should join; rather, JS states that he already knew all other churches were false before he prayed. Smith testified: “by searching the scriptures I found that mankind did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatized from the true and living faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
4. B.H. Roberts, in the early 1900’s, was considered Mormonism’s most competent historian, leading theologian, and chief defender of the faith (apologist). In 1921, a letter was referred to him received by James E. Talmage from a man asking 5 specific questions about problems with the BoM. Roberts was asked to answer this man’s questions. After considering the questions for a month and coming to no satisfactory answers, Roberts requested and had a conference with Heber J. Grant (Church President), his Counselors, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, for the purpose of discussing and receiving inspiration or revelatory insight to the answers to these difficult questions about the BoM. This long meeting resulted in no further help or insight to answering these questions for Roberts other than each of the Brethren baring their testimonies of the truthfulness of the BoM.
5. After the above mentioned meeting, B.H. Roberts embarked upon a prolonged study of the BoM with a specific comparison of Ethan Smith’s book, “View of the Hebrews” published a few years prior to the BoM being published. Roberts wrote a manuscript detailing this study, titled, “A Book of Mormon Study”. In this manuscript he detailed numerous and startling points of resemblance and suggestive contact between the two works. A quote from Roberts found in the manuscript: “In light of the evidence, there can be no doubt as to the possession of a vividly strong, creative imagination by Joseph Smith, the Prophet, an imagination, it could with reason be urged, which, given the suggestions that are to be found in the “common knowledge” of accepted American antiquities of the times, supplemented by such a work as Ethan Smith’s “View of the Hebrews”, would make it possible for him to create a book such as the Book of Mormon is.”
6. Brigham Young, the second President and Prophet of the Mormon Church, taught while he was President of the Church that Adam was really God (Adam-God theory). This is now considered false doctrine by the current LDS church. ??(A Prophet of God will never lead the Church astray.)??
7. The Mormon Church teaches that the BoM contains the fullness of the gospel, however, the BoM does not teach the following Mormon gospel principles:
a. The Aaronic nor Melchizedek Priesthood is not mentioned.
b. No teaching about “three degrees of glory“.
c. No mention about not drinking alcohol, tea, or coffee.
d. No mention that God has a body of flesh and bones.
e. No mention of temple participation and ceremonies being necessary for exaltation.
f. No mention of temple work for the dead.
g. No mention that man may progress to be Gods.
h. No mention that it is okay to practice polygamy.
i. No mention about wearing of sacred undergarments.
j. No mention that the black race is the seed of Cain.
k. No mention that God has a wife.
l. No mention that Satan and Jesus are spiritual brothers.
m. No mention of the plurality of Gods.
n. No mention that the Holy Ghost is also a son of God.
8. Joseph Smith, Jr. was involved with the occult magic art learned from his father and which was commonly practiced by many other individuals in their area of the country. JS hired out as a “treasure seeker” using the supposed magical power of a “peep-stone” to locate hidden treasures. He was involved in this kind of activity for many years from about 1820 to 1827. He was brought to trial in March, 1826 “as a disorderly person” because of pretense as a “glass looker” and pretending to discover lost goods, hidden treasures, mines of gold and silver, etc.
9. The Mountain Meadows Massacre of Sept. 11, 1857 resulted in the slaughter in cold blooded murder of 120 men, women, and children from a wagon train passing through Southern Utah. This massacre was carried out by about 50 Mormon men along with recruited and encouraged local Indians after orders given from the leaders of local Mormon militia who also served as the leaders of the Mormon Church in the area. The whole unfortunate event stemmed from bad feelings left from Mormon persecution of the saints while in Missouri and Illinois along with U.S. government troops being sent to Utah at the time to quell Mormon insurrection. “Blood Atonement”, being taught by Church President Brigham Young during this era, may have had a factor in causing this tragedy.
| I'm not too sure where this post belongs. It is regarding the Stages of Cult Recovery, as listed by Paul R. Martin of the Wellspring Retreat. I thought I'd sum up his summations of the generic cult exit experience. If the admins deem it appropriate, please merge with the other thread. |
The scope of this list of stages is a little different. The Post-Mormon paradigm starts with the pre-exit stage. This begins after exit. Parts of it correspond to the Post-Mormon Stages, but it probes more deeply into some of them, and takes several side tracks.
It is taken from Recovery from Cults, specifically Chapter 10, Post-Cult Recovery: Assessment and Rehabilitation. I have quoted from this chapter before.. For the most part, it's excellent.
Stage 1: Developing a Conceptual Framework
andquot;The focus of stage one is education and self-acceptanceandquot;.
The Possible Need for Exit Counseling
Most of us are andquot;exit counseling ourselvesandquot;. We're delving into Mormonism's hidden side, seeking to understand how we were deceived, expressing repressed feelings in a sympathetic community, researching Church History, and trying to make sense of it all.
Recognizing the Importance of Relationships
Many people enter cults for social reasons. It is important that when exiting, the ex-cultist find understanding and acceptance. This is often difficult for Mormons especially in the corridor. Many of us have lost all of our friends and family members, or at the very least, we will not find any support there.
Evaluating the Group
I believe this is the stage I'm most occupied with at the moment. Ex-members must make a andquot;sound intellectual and theological (or philosophical) evaluation of the group's teachingsandquot;, and also take a second look at the group's ethics, andquot;for example, its use of money, its methods of thought reform, and its practice of deceptionandquot;. This is a time for the individual to re-evaluate themselves in the context of what they discover about the cult. This is something of a moral separation, of understanding that one's actions within the group were probably of honest intent, and coming to terms with the deceptions.
Recovery of Fellowship and Recognition of Group Processes
The ex-member will seek to join fellowship with others, possibly another group. Issues include problems with trusting other individuals and organizations, or jumping right in to another controlling group. Ex-members may seek that social euphoria of their former group, or turn completely away from intimacy with all people.
The Recognition of andquot;Floatingandquot;
Floating has been a difficult term for me to understand. Dr. Martin uses the best description I've found so far, however I think this may mean something slightly different to everyone who has written about it.
andquot;When an ex-cultist gets back into the high after leaving a cult, it is called 'floating'. If he snaps back into the shame-based motivations experienced in the cult and again believes the cult was right, that too is called floating.andquot;
I've also heard it described in the context of triggers and dissociation. People from meditation cults will often snap back into uncontrollable trance states.
I believe I've experienced what Dr. Martin describes, but it's difficult for me to wrap my mind around. This involves something that is so intrinsically a part of andquot;who I amandquot;, that it's hard to put into a test tube. I can only get a vague sense of what this means, but I believe ex-Mormons do experience this. I've gotten this sense from reading the posts of others as well, especially those who are still frequently around Mormons.
This step involves recognizing abuse and the long-term effects. Mormons seem to have a wide range of emotional, spiritual, physical, and sexual abuse. Some lived in highly dysfunctional abusive families, and the Church reinforced and doctrines provided justification. For others, their families were relatively functional, and the doctrines were slightly more flexible and open. Then there are those of us somewhere in between. Abuses caused by extended relatives, clergy, also cannot be ignored.
In any case, Mormon doctrine is designed to be taken seriously, and some of it is quite a mind f*ck. Whatever level of trauma experienced, this is the phase of reconciliation to it.
Martin insists that for a proper recovery, the ex-cultist must have a good understanding of how they were manipulated. This is why I'm so driven to do all this reading and writing. The cult causes alienation from the authentic self, so understanding how it was done will help one find their own lost soul.
The Church had the answers to everything, walled us off from the rest of the world, made the doctrine more important than our self, andquot;broadly define[d] sin and narrowly define[d] human natureandquot;, loaded our language to trap us in the andquot;doctrine over selfandquot; paradigm, demanded purity, inflicted shame because we could not ever be truly pure, and this increased our dependency... Our only alternative, as repeated time and time again, was certain destruction.
At the end of stage one, Martin summarizes with what I've quoted here before -- that the joy and rage (and other emotions) must be allowed to run their courses.
Stage Two: Grieving, Reconciliation, and Reaching Out
At this stage, the ex-cultist may experience the following issues: grief for friends and family still in the group, denial (andquot;I can't believe this happened to meandquot;), regret for lost time, worries about finding a new spiritual path, uncertainty about God, and guilt/shame for having been converted in the first place.
During this phase, the ex-cultist will be searching for meaning in a now-uncertain world. The ex-cultist will need support and affirmation. This is a time for talking about their trauma and finding self-esteem and self-forgiveness. The compass has stopped spinning wildly, and now it's time to take a look at where it is pointing.
The Need for Reconciliation
Many ex-cultists feel guilty for unethical actions they made while in the cult. This is probably more of an issue for those who served a mission or were called to high leadership positions. If you feel you have wronged someone, now is the time to make amends, if possible. It's also important to not condemn your old self based your current light.
The Request for Information
This has more to do with doctrinal questions. Trying to understand former beliefs, and putting them into a context of your newly developing beliefs.
The Need for Support
That's why we're here in this forum. Martin says, andquot;...finding and talking with other former members ... is an essential step to recovery... Their experience is similar to that of 'war buddies'andquot;.
Rediscovery of the Gospel
Ok, so this is where Martin and I part ways. He gets a little preachy here. Later he emphasizes that at Wellspring, they only get Biblical and Christiany if people expressly want it.
I'm going to change his focus a little, and call this phase andquot;Seeking True Spiritualityandquot;, whatever its form may be for the individual.
During this stage, ex-members may desire to help pull others out of the organization. If it helps, do it. But be aware that attempting this without much education or planning may backfire. Don't forget, cognitive dissonance is alive and well.
Contact by the Cult
Yep, Mormons aren't the only ones that get bugged and harassed. According to Martin, the first attempts will be in the interests of bringing the ex-cultist back. If those don't work, andquot;they will try to discredit the former member and limit any contact he or she may have with the cult.andquot;
How about this? andquot;Their tack is to say things like, 'We miss you,' 'We love you,' 'We have been so worried about you,' 'We have been praying for you,' 'We would like to be with you.'andquot; This is right out of the book.
Martin advises caution in this area. Mormons are probably relatively safe physically -- they won't try to kidnap you like some cults will. However, I would also advise caution -- I continued to trust my parents, and they pulled a few things I never would have suspected of them. They left me an emotional mess (I still have nightmares, and this happened several years ago). I had to andquot;divorceandquot; them and set extremely firm boundaries -- of the andquot;don't come back or I will call the policeandquot; sort. Please don't underestimate how strong their beliefs are -- Mormon doctrines (eternal family, the plan of salvation, Satan is actively tempting people, it's better to die that lose your chastity, etc) are held above the concept of individual rights and personal comfort.
Retributions of the Cult
This addresses the threat of physical violence from the cult. This one is probably not a worry in modern mainstream Mormonism. It definitely once was, and still is for Fundamentalists.
Reemergence of the Past
This covers dealing with psychological and emotional issues one may have had prior to joining the cult. Most members are born into the Church, so I'd also add issues not directly related to Mormonism, whether caused by nurture or nature.
Previous experiences must be re-evaluated with your new, non-cult mind. This includes abuse issues, addictions, loneliness, unresolved grief, relationship problems, etc. The Bandaid of resolution-through-faith has been ripped off, so now old wounds can be viewed from a secular concept of modern psychology. Science hasn't gotten it all figured out yet, but it's a lot more likely to be of help than advice like, andquot;Pray and read the scripturesandquot;, andquot;It will all work out in the endandquot;, andquot;Remember Heavenly Father loves youandquot;, andquot;You're a child of Godandquot;, and andquot;Quit dwelling on the negative and just get over it!andquot;
All aspects of Stage Two may bring old issues to light that were never properly dealt with. This may add to the emotional turmoil, confusion, and uncertainty.
Stage Three: Reintegration into Society
andquot;When the former cult member begins talking less and less about the cult and spending more time in career, relationship, and personal issues, then he or she is in the third stage of recovery.andquot;
One thing I would like to point out here, is that sometimes there is a negative connotation to andquot;dwelling in the pastandquot; or focusing on the negative. I just found myself feeling a little guilty for writing this very post, thinking, andquot;Geez, I'm still stuck in stages one and two, what's wrong with me?andquot; This attitude will get me nowhere. I have decided to spend as much time as I like right where I am. If I'm interested, there must be a reason why -- in fact, there doesn't even need to be a reason.
And if I become disinterested, and five years from now, come back to it, so be it. I will forgive myself, and let myself do what needs to be done. There is no shame in it.
Positives of the Cult Experience
As part of the process, we can look at the positive things we learned and experienced because of Mormonism. While some of these traits are out of whack and need some calibration, I learned determination, honesty, restraint, moderation, politeness, kindness, hard work, and how to play the piano.
What did you learn?
Recovery of the Whole Self
Martin makes reference to finding the pre-cult self, which is frustrating to me. I never had a pre-cult self. I've had to rephrase these types of references to andquot;authentic selfandquot;. Finding this has been difficult, but I know I've tapped in during those moments when I feel joy in doing something that is uniquely me.
The Self and Religious Commitment
Martin gets preachy again. Something about the difference between performance-based doctrines and Jesus-forgives-all doctrines.
Recovery of the Practical
Mormons are already practical. We're encouraged to be self-sufficient when it comes to financial, shelter, and food needs, so many of the problems facing some other ex-cultists in this regard will probably not be an issue for ex-Mormons.
Recognition of Sexuality and Intimate Relations
Mormonism isn't the only one with weird dating rules and strict laws about sex.
During this phase, some ex-cultists go overboard. On RfM I've seen this referred to as the andquot;Adolescent Phaseandquot;.
Longing for Friends in the Cult
Martin recommends balance, and making sure this longing isn't misplaced guilt or codepencency.
Well, that's it. Must sleep now.
| Let The Holy Spirit Guide - How Mormonism Gives Lip Service To Personal Responsibility While Undermining It At The Same Time |
Thursday, Oct 13, 2005, at 09:10 AM
Original Author(s): Mujun
Topic: EX-MORMONISM SECTION 2 -Link To MC Article-
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| There's a right and a wrong to every question - Be safe through inspiration's power |
Even as a dedicated, believing Mormon, I always thought there was something wrong with that hymn. As comforting as it may be for some people to live in a black-and-white world, there really is not a right and a wrong to every question. Life is rarely that simple.
Mormonism, on the surface, teaches us that we are responsible for our own decisions and actions, but it's a warped and artificial kind of responsibility. What Mormonism really wants us to believe is that, in every situation we may face, the right decision exists independent of us. Our task is not to figure out what is best for ourselves. Our task is to ascertain what is right, and right equals the church's official and authoritarian interpretation of divine will.
This approach to life is all about obedience, which may be a virtue in its own way, but should not be confused with personal responsibility. Personal responsibility is about drawing on my own life's experiences, my own feelings and my own social relationships to establish my own values and morals. Personal responsibility is about ordering my life around those values and morals, and using them as a framework through which to evaluate the choices with which I am confronted every day. Personal responsibility is about being willing to reexamine and reconsider my values and morals when I encounter new experiences and ideas that challenge their underlying assumptions. Personal responsibility is about recognizing that many choices are between two good things or that sometimes you really do have to decide which is the lesser of two evils.
I know people who pray in the aisle of the grocery store about which brand of cereal to buy. They call it "living in the Spirit." I call it an utter and complete abdication of personal responsibility. Once you've convinced yourself that you're getting divine guidance about about matters that mundane and trivial, you're no longer personally responsible for anything. If the decision you made goes south on you, it wasn't your fault. You were following the Spirit. There must have been a lesson from God for you in the experience.
The effect is even more insidious when people take that approach with bigger, weightier decisions. How is a husband supposed to feel if his wife married him primarily because she believed it was divine will, and less because of her own feelings, desires and thoughtful consideration? (Of course, if he manipulated her into thinking it was divine will, he deserves no sympathy.) How romantic is it to believe that your spouse married you because he or she felt commanded to do it?
Is there any meaningful difference between living that way and saying "The Devil made me do it?"
| Our family used to be so close. We would have holidays together, birthday parties together, hang out with each other while the nieces and nephews played hide-and-seek or helped grandma bake cookies. Every discussion revolved around the church and who had what calling or what the latest Ward gossip was. But after my wife and I left the church and explained our reasons in a short, unthreatening letter to them, it is like we have become carriers of the plague.
The daily phone calls have stopped, dinner invites have ceased, our kids haven't played with their cousins in months, conversation stops when we walk into a room, and the things we all used to do together don't happen anymore.
One sister got pregnant and had a quickie wedding at the local Stake Center. It was an embarassment to my parents but her in-laws embraced her as their newest daughter-in-law. Last year when she and her husband were finally able to be sealed in the temple, she called me and yelled at me for "ruining the most important day in her life" because I refused to drive 1,000 miles and go to the sealing. She called me hard-hearted and under the influence of Satan.
Another sister, although she has doubts herself, refuses to speak with us because she thinks that what we might tell her will push her over the edge and make her lose her testimony all together. So instead of confronting her doubts, she buries her head in the sand and keeps on popping her Prozac hoping life will get better.
Another sister is adicted to painkillers and has a stash in her bathroom that would make Rush Limbaugh envious. But don't let us around her kids because of the negative influence we may have on them.
The list goes on and on.
We are still the same people as before. We give to charities instead of paying our tithing. We don't drink, do drugs, or cheat on each other. We adhere to sound moral reasoning and try to make the world a little better place to live.
Every once in a while we'll get a call from a younger member of my family asking if we could loan them a hundred bucks until payday or if we cold help make a phone bill payment or whatever. We never turn them away because they are still family and want them to see that we are the same people as before. But to them, all they see is the church issue.
So I have come to the conclusion that the church is nothing more than a fucking cult that requires strict obedience over family relationships. If it comes down to the family vs. the church, the church takes priority every time. And it pisses me off.
| Former Mormons with "part member" families - does your family consider you "unworthy" and won't be part of their "Celestial Family" when we all die "I have my Celestial Family now," one of my TBM adult children said to me awhile back in a phone conversation.
I live, daily, with that subtle, underlying: "you are unworthy" attitude (which they deny, of course) but it apparent in how I am treated.
It is almost impossible to get a TBM relative (spouse or off spring etc.) to respect the former Mormon once they leave the group.
Instead of believing what I say, they will go to their Mormon "authorities" to get answers. They do not do their own research, as they rely on the "faith promoting" story parroted by the other TBM's in a kind of "old boys club" to shut the former believers out and shut them down. Their "testimony" must be preserved at all costs and that can only be done by those in "authority." Women, in particular are shut out of the club.
They use that old tried and true: "I know the church is true" testimony that they obtained from a "spiritual witness you won't understand," to make it clear that you are "unworthy"! Often that "testimony" is hurled in such red faced anger and clinched fists, and with such hatred that it is scary.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I learned, early on to live in fear. It was so subtle, I hardly noticed it! I converted when I was a young adult (in the early 60's) and married in the temple and little by little, I learned the power a Mormon adult male has. Especially when they are following the "inspiration" of a bishop!
I lived in a kind of underlying fear, from all that programming from Mormonism's teachings, that if I was "unworthy," my husband could divorce me and take my children away from me and the church leaders would help him do that. I would be left destitute, shamed, and on my own.
The "worthy" husband is told he is entitled to a "worthy" wife and the leadership (bishops in particular) would do anything to make that happen. This is also true of the gender is reversed.
Reading here, I see this still happens. I had hoped that the church would have lightened up on how they program their members. But, instead, I read about how TBM's cannot accept the change in belief of their spouses and they live in hell trying to keep the family together! They sacrifice their own personal rights, often to make that happen.
Somehow, their 11th Article of Faith does not apply to them, only to others who never heard of the Mormon Church, or so I was told by a TBM relative!
Mormonism is not designed to respect freedom of religion or to respect those who change their mind. Do they really mean to do that? Are the top leaders unaware of what Mormonism is doing to families that are now "part member" families, in particular?
Do they have any idea how destructive Mormonism is? Do they know how their teachings has translated into destroying the family?
I doubt that the top leaders, have a clue about how the local members have internalized the teachings and live the religion. They have distanced themselves, on purpose, by rarely even speaking to the "rank and file" members. Instead, they refer people to the local bishops, who from what I have observed, are over worked members trying to keep their heads above water with little or no training.
Mormonism has programed it's members to believe in a factitious imaginary person who has "lost the spirit" and is no longer "worthy" (sinned, apostatized,etc.) that is created when someone leaves the Mormon Church. It is so powerful that members are afraid to drink coffee, certain kinds of tea, or wear underwear, not bought from the church.
Unfortunately, in many instances their fears have been used against them to destroy the family, or in the least, change it so that the non-believer cannot be honest as the consequences are so dire.
Often it is a frightening site. Their words and attitudes of the TBM's show an unhealthy, acrid bitterness and malevolence to such a degree that it makes one wonder if they are able to maintain healthy, lasting relationships.
They accuse the former believer of hating themselves-self loathing, and in need of help in the form of reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it. Nothing else will suffice. They are sure that is the answer.
Former Mormons are faced, daily with a choice. Tell the truth, or loose your family, your job, your home, your career, your scholarship, access to your BYU transcripts, and on and on and on. In the minimum, generally, you loose respect and acceptance. Where you might have been considered a smart, intelligent, interesting person, you are now not to be trusted or believed, no matter what you talk about.
It is difficult to take your power back from the programming from Mormonism, especially when living with a believer and have believing off spring. But, it can be done. They won't like it, they will resist. Some will dig in deeper and become a super TBM, reading, studying, sticking to the Mormon church's teachings like glue!
Many of us had a hard time leaving the imprinting from Mormonism. The teachings ring in our ears, run like automatic scripts organizing our minds into a Mormon World View until we are even afraid to think differently. Many of us even lived in fear of taking off our regulation underwear. Now I can laugh about it, fortunately I get to the laugher fast, but at the time, there was a brief moment of fear!
It is an odd paradox. I am not sure who lives in the most fear: the TBM or the former believer. It is a strange dance--an odd two-step to find some level of cohesiveness and keep a family together that now has a non-believer voicing their disapproval of the fraud of Mormonism.
Mormonism has done an excellent job in getting thousands of believers to never question, and never express any real doubts. It is OK to think about it, but never, ever say a word.
Talking about the fraud of Mormonism will often have expensive consequences.
Hopefully, the cost is worth it! For myself, it is worth it! It took awhile, but I found my voice and the authentic me that was there all along! I will never stop informing and educating Mormons, relatives included!
| I listened to Tal Bachman's talk last night, and when he recounted telling his father "We've been had," I realized just how wrong it is to even try to stay in this organization. Suddenly, every turning point in my life led to the conclusion that I have to get out, despite the threats from my wife.
I remembered feeling just like Tal did when I was a missionary in Bolivia. I thought that if they killed us, as they threatened to, it would be fine because we would die as martyrs. Of course, that didn't stop me from being scared to death when a speaker before an angry crowd started yelling about yanqui asesinos when we passed by or when our car was surrounded by a mob beating on the doors and windows. 3 years later, 2 missionaries did die in Bolivia. And for what?
I remembered how disorienting and horrifying the temple was the first time. How could this be from God? Why did I have to swear to keep it secret at the penalty of a throat slitting or disembowelling? Why was I supposed to find this spiritually uplifting?
I thought of the sick feeling in my stomach when I heard Boyd K. Packer making fun of three heartfelt letters in a meeting at the COB. Here I was watching a crowd of Church management laughing at others' pain at the direction of an "apostle." But to have such thoughts was just evil speaking, so I overlooked it and went back to my office, happy to be in the service of the Lord.
I thought of the phrase "nurture and admonition of the Lord," which caused me to realize that the Book of Mormon was a fraud. How could Enos, a person who lived before Christ in America, have quoted Paul's letter to the Ephesians? I knew then that it was fiction. But I deluded myself into believing a fiction could be inspired.
I pondered all the other assorted evidence of fraud: mummies and Abraham, Kinderhook, Greek psalters, the Kirtland Bank, the Canadian copyright, the trip to Massachusetts, glass-looking and money-digging. And everything else.
Finally, I thought of Helen Mar Kimball, whose account made me realize once and for all that the fiction was inspired only by greed and lust, not by a desire to serve God and humanity.
I went home and told my wife the same thing Craig Paxton did: I'm not going to lie for you or anyone else.
I don't know what will happen, but I am through pretending. Enough is enough. Thank you, Tal and Craig, for helping me find the courage to do what's right.
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