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EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 16
The "Opinion" topic was created to separate out recovery from opinions on posts made in Ex-Mormonism. A large selection of posts made by Ex-Mormons that do not fit in "Recovery". These are more considered "Soap Box" posts. While they may be opinions, they are still very important in the steps to recovering from Mormonism.
| As members, weren't was all told we had the right to personal revelation? In fact aren't we Required to have it.
I think the quote was that each person is Expected to receive revelation. Joseph said so as well.
But as in Josephs day, personal revelation gets messy. Next thing you know, JS has a revelation that only he can receive it. As members, we were counselled that it could only be from God if it aligned with the leadership. Yet we have seen leadership stumble time and time again from the EQP to the Prophet.
When JS decided to sell the copyright to the BoM in Canada, the venture failed (probably due to the horrendous grammar and spelling) and he said that Some revelations are of God, some are of Man, and some are of the Devil. What this translated to is that only if it matches the leadership of the day, then it is of God. It also leads to much personal confusion; What if I am wrong? Did Satan deceive me? Did I not hear whenm God spoke? Am I right or wrong? (cue pulling of hair).
I think that in the church, the concept of personal revelation has been watered down to mere sustaining of the Priesthood. Agreeing with them means you are receiving revelation confirming their words. Any differentr feeling is from the devil. Those who support the church no matter the cost believe that God is inspiring them to follow and sacrifice.
So back to Nick, and even Grant Palmer, Fawn Brodie, the Internet and human intelligence- what if the work against the church is actually inspiration from God? Surely the church can be proven false on every front from contradictory and patently false scripture to practices that harm people, and as such, God should be inspiring people to thwart it.
| Recently, I have been reading The Doctrines of Salvation by Joseph Fielding Smith and The Way to Perfection and I picked up on something that has laid hidden:
Throughout these 4 books, there is only ONE single instance of Christs love for us- it is in TWP in one paragraph that is actually speaking about King Benjamin saying that we can never be good enough, and that the great atonement indebts us to do all that we can. The closest it comes is referencing "I Stand All Amazed"
The Priesthood is to serve others which is good, but the purpose and meaning of serving others is to act as a light to bring them to the church. Truly serving them is to convert them.
In my growing up in the church, service was always a missionary tool. Feed the hungry was never taught,except as a reason to pay Fast Offerings. Social justice will take care of itself if we are doing our duty to bring the light of the gospel to others so they can treat each other well.
In combing these four books and Mormon Doctrine, there truly is no sense of the things that Jesus Christ taught. Only that we are indebted to Him for the sacrifice, and that means that we must look to the church and commit ourselves to the church. It would appear that Christ did not even truly love us, He loved His father and was obedient enough to fulfill this tremendous and wonderful role.
I think I'm rambling. But the key here is that the focus of the church is not in the Sermon on the Mount, it is not interested in the real Gospel of Christ as is mentioned in Matthew 25. Rather, it is about The Church. It is not about faith in Christ, it is about covenant keeping, and focusing on the temple.
Jesus Christ died only to satisfy the law so that we could return to God IF we keep our covenants to the church.
I guess I sensed it for a long time, but sitting down and actually researching the concepts has shed a very bright light on the heart of the LDS gospel - It is not about love, it is about obedience to Priesthood.
| Has The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints split into two different religions (without even knowing it)?
The enormous popularity of the Internet has brought a vast amount of information into the hands of a great many people--information that, until recently, could only be accessed through inconvenient trips to far-flung libraries and archival repositories. andnbsp;Nowadays, a simple visit to google.com places nearly any sort of information into the hands of the average user with only a few keystrokes.
This has meant that a great deal of information regarding Mormonism's early history and prior beliefs are now widely available--information which was, until the advent of the Internet, largely unknown by the average member. andnbsp;Therefore, apologists for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are no longer able to just ignore certain issues and hope they go away. andnbsp;They must now deal with virtually all the controversial aspects of Mormonism, since increasing numbers of LDS members are becoming aware of these issues.
A typical apologetic ploy is the "that was only his opinion" tactic. andnbsp;By reminding readers that Mormonism never claimed its leaders to be infallible, any controversial or repugnant teaching of yesteryear--such as the Adam-God doctrine--can be dismissed as being only the prophet's opinion. andnbsp;Nowadays, with knowledge of such historical items becoming more and more widespread, that tactic has been put into "overdrive." andnbsp;Similarly, apologists are now spending a lot of time reminding readers that prophets in the Bible did and said many foolish things, so it would be absurd to hold modern prophets to a higher standard.
In this way, apologists have collectively (and perhaps inadvertently) redefined what most Mormons have been taught regarding the role and importance of prophets. andnbsp;Unfortunately, and perhaps most importantly, the prophets themselves have never defined their own role the way the apologists have. andnbsp;Therefore, a dichotomy has been created: andnbsp;Mormonism as interpreted by the apologists, and Mormonism as interpreted by the average member and by the prophets themselves.
These two different schools of thought are typically encountered in separate venues. andnbsp;Since Mormonism's controversial issues are widely and freely discussed on the Internet, many apologists likewise seek to make their own views and interpretations known via the Internet. andnbsp;By the same token, Mormonism's chapels are settings for religious instruction and ordinances--as opposed to places for debate or argument--so only official teachings are shared therein. andnbsp;Therefore, the adherents of these separate schools of thought can be termed "Internet Mormons" and "Chapel Mormons"--not because of the only places they inhabit, of course, but because of the places one is most likely to encounter them. andnbsp;Lest anyone be confused, I also acknowledge that Internet Mormonism--at least in its embryonic form--has been around much longer than the Internet itself has. andnbsp;Again, the name "Internet Mormonism" merely calls attention to the place at which one is most likely to encounter this brand of Mormon thought. andnbsp;It also pays tribute to the fact that the Internet was the catalyst for the recent explosion of this particular brand of Mormonism.
A spectrum of belief is probably common in most religious traditions, but within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a different dynamic is at work: andnbsp;Both Internet Mormonism and Chapel Mormonism have each taken on independent lives of their own. andnbsp;The most interesting aspect of this dichotomy is that each group claims that its views are the "true" Mormonism. andnbsp;For example, exmormons (who were almost invariably Chapel Mormons before they left the church) are routinely castigated by Internet Mormons as having never understood their religion in the first place, while Chapel Mormons often tell apologists that they were never taught such radical notions in their ward or branch.
Without further ado, here are a few specific examples of the diametrically opposing beliefs espoused by the Internet Mormons and the Chapel Mormons, respectively:
It can hardly be overstated that the prophets and apostles themselves have near-universally fallen on the "Chapel Mormon" side of each of the above points of divergence and have clearly and unambiguously taught their followers to do the same. andnbsp;There are, however, other points of divergence about which A) they have not spoken of in recent memory, B) they have softened their stance on over the years, c) they have sent mixed signals, or D) they haven't committed themselves either way. andnbsp;As such, the following list represents items on which Chapel Mormons and Internet Mormons tend to diverge, just like the above list, but can't quite as easily be blamed on adherence to--or departure from--the words of the prophets (due to questionable doctrinality). andnbsp;Therefore, while the above list consisted of hard-and-fast identifiers, the following list only identifies general trends:
- Chapel Mormons will typically try and bend science to fit the prophets. andnbsp;Internet Mormons typically try to bend the prophets to fit science.
- When the apologists contradict the prophets, Chapel Mormons almost always go with the prophets, while Internet Mormons almost always go with the apologists.
- Chapel Mormons believe that the words "Lamanite" and "Native American" are interchangeable. andnbsp;Internet Mormons believe that the words "Lamanite" and "Native American" refer to two entirely separate cultural and linguistic groups.
- Chapel Mormons usually believe that Noah's flood was a global event, covering the entire world. andnbsp;Internet Mormons believe that Noah's flood was a localized event, covering only a certain area.
- Chapel Mormons believe the Lehite colony landed in a New World devoid of inhabitants save, perhaps, for at least one remaining Jaredite. andnbsp;Internet Mormons believe the Lehite colony landed in a New World filled with Asiatic inhabitants.
- When discussing the words of the prophets, Chapel Mormons almost never say "it was only his opinion," believing that a prophet's words and God's words are essentially one and the same. andnbsp;Internet Mormons, on the other hand, very often say "it was only his opinion."
- Chapel Mormons believe that Joseph Smith was correct and that the Hill Cumorah was located in Western New York and was the same hill from which he retrieved the Golden Plates. andnbsp;Internet Mormons believe that FARMS is correct and that the Hill Cumorah was located somewhere in Southern Mexico.
- Chapel Mormons believe that real and binding doctrine is that which is accepted and believed by the majority of the Saints (in practice, this means that they accept the overwhelming majority of what they learn in church and in the church's official publications in addition to the four Standard Works). andnbsp;Internet Mormons believe that the only real and binding doctrine in Mormonism is that found between the covers of the four Standard Works--all else is mere conjecture.
- Chapel Mormons tend to take a prophet's words at face value. andnbsp;Internet Mormons often "filter" a prophet's words through both his local cultural influences and his limited sphere of knowledge.
- Chapel Mormons believe that the living prophets supersede the scriptures. andnbsp;Internet Mormons believe that the scriptures supersede the living prophets.
- Chapel Mormons tend to believe that a prophet's words apply to everyone he's addressing. andnbsp;Internet Mormons believe that a prophet's words may not apply to at least some of the people he's addressing.
- Chapel Mormons believe that a prophet is a foreordained man of the highest moral caliber. andnbsp;Internet Mormons believe that a prophet is not necessarily any better than his societal average.
Whenever a Mormon is confronted with controversial and contradictory historical information which he or she can no longer simply ignore, he or she has one of two choices: andnbsp;Either apostatize or convert to Internet Mormonism. andnbsp;As Internet Mormonism progressively claims a greater and greater percentage of Mormonism as a whole, it will be interesting to see how Mormon culture changes--and how the LDS heirarchy reacts thereto.
- Chapel Mormons usually believe in a "Hemispheric Geography," i.e. that the Book of Mormon lands encompassed all of North and South America. andnbsp;Internet Mormons believe in a "Limited Geography," i.e. that the Book of Mormon lands only encompassed the general area between Southern Mexico and (roughly) Nicaragua.
- Most Chapel Mormons believe that the Lamanites are the principal ancestors of the American Indians. andnbsp;Internet Mormons believe that the Lamanites were only a small group among the ancestors of the American Indians.
- Many Chapel Mormons believe that spirit children in the pre-existence are created through sexual intercourse, just like in mortality. andnbsp;Internet Mormons never take a stance on this teaching either way, other than perhaps to declare it non-doctrinal.
- Many or most Chapel Mormons believe that Jesus was conceived through actual sex between God and Mary. andnbsp;As before, Internet Mormons rarely take a stance on this teaching either way, other than perhaps to declare it non-doctrinal.
- Most Chapel Mormons believe that God has a wife--"Heavenly Mother"--having been sealed to Her during His own mortal probation. andnbsp;Internet Mormons are notably less likely to commit to this belief.
- As a sub-set of the above, many Chapel Mormons believe that God has more than one wife. andnbsp;Internet Mormons rarely admit to this belief one way or the other.
- The vast majority of Chapel Mormons believe that God was once a man. andnbsp;Far fewer Internet Mormons share this belief; many of them will either declare it to be non-doctrinal or will refuse to commit either way.
- Most Chapel Mormons believe that God had a "father God." andnbsp;Internet Mormons are rarely willing to discuss this.
- Many Chapel Mormons believe that black Africans and those of black African descent were less valiant in the pre-existence (although this belief fortunately appears to be dwindling). andnbsp;Internet Mormons usually deny that this was ever a Mormon belief.
- Some Chapel Mormons still believe that birth control is a sin. andnbsp;The notion that birth control could be a sin never crosses an Internet Mormon's mind.
- During the march of Zion's Camp, Joseph Smith and a small party dug some Indian bones out of a burial mound. Joseph declared the bones to be those of "Zelph," a white Lamanite who fought under the great prophet Onandagus who was known from the Eastern Sea, or the Hill Cumorah, to the Rocky Mountains. andnbsp;Chapel Mormons who are familiar with this story believe that Joseph received this information from God, by revelation. andnbsp;Internet Mormons believe that Joseph was merely speculating, guessing, or--according to one Internet Mormon--joking.
- Many or most Chapel Mormons believe that Adam and Eve were the first humans. andnbsp;The vast majority of Internet Mormons believe in evolution.
- Most Chapel Mormons believe that it was impossible for human beings to reproduce before the fall of Adam. andnbsp;Thanks to their belief in evolution, most Internet Mormons disagree with this.
- Many Chapel Mormons believe that there was no death prior to the Fall of Adam. andnbsp;Again, thanks to their belief in evolution, most Internet Mormons disagree with this.
- Many Chapel Mormons believe that the earth is somewhere around 6,000 years old. andnbsp;Internet Mormons nearly always disagree, believing, as do the scientists, that the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old.
- Most Chapel Mormons believe that God lives near a star called Kolob. andnbsp;Internet Mormons are much less likely to admit having this belief.
- Many Chapel Mormons believe that "a woman's place is in the home" is the ideal arrangement. andnbsp;Internet Mormons believe that this notion is obsolete and/or irrelevant.
- Chapel Mormons believe that the Book of Abraham was written on ancient Egyptian scrolls that Joseph Smith translated into English. andnbsp;Internet Mormons believe that the Book of Abraham was A) translated from portions of the scrolls that are missing, B) received by direct revelation after Joseph Smith was inspired by laying eyes on the scrolls, C) extraplolated into English thanks to a mnemonic device or hidden code written on the scrolls, or D) any of a number of other theories not involving direct translation.
- Most Chapel Mormons believe that when the Book of Mormon says "horse," it means precisely that--a horse. andnbsp;Internet Mormons believe that when the Book of Mormon says "horse," it actually means a deer or, perhaps, a tapir.
- Chapel Mormons say that the prophets instruct the members what to believe--that's their job. andnbsp;Internet Mormons say that the prophets do not tell the members what to believe.
- Of those Latter-day Saints who are aware of Rodney Meldrum, Chapel Mormons believe he is doing a great work, whereas Internet Mormons wish he would just go away (although there is a not-so-subtle undercurrent of extreme dislike, if not abject hatred, simmering just beneath the surface).
- Most if not all Chapel Mormons believe that the prophet is always right about church doctrine when he declares it in General Conference--otherwise what's the point? andnbsp;Internet Mormons believe that the prophet can be mistaken about church doctrine just as often in General Conference as anywhere else.
- When discussing the words of the prophets, Chapel Mormons almost never say "that's not necessary to my salvation." andnbsp;Internet Mormons, on the other hand, quite often say "that's not necessary to my salvation."
For more information, see:
| BYU In The Mormon Context
The threads on college rankings and the BYU education department got me thinking about both that university and the broader Mormon intellectual culture. Although I am critical of the former, I think the fundamental problem is that over the last few decades the authoritarian elements in the Church have become much more powerful. In such an environment, BYU cannot thrive.
In debating the Newsweek rankings, Anon said (among many other insightful things) that BYU gets a disproportionate number of very smart students. This must surely be true. For people who grow up in the Jello Belt and are committed to Mormonism and to an eventual temple marriage, BYU seems more comfortable than the profoundly different cultures at places like Berkeley, Chicago Georgetown, Michigan, Princeton, Stanford or any of the other top schools. I therefore have no doubt that BYU gets a lot of bright students and that their average intelligence would merit a ranking much higher than 71st that Newsweek recently assigned the university.
But the intellectual firepower of the student body is not the right criterion. What matters is the experience at university and the value of the education after graduation. Judged on these dimensions, BYU is a very limited institution. Think of the temporal element. The best universities try to limit the non-academic demands on students’ time because they feel that four years barely suffices to provide a good education. Compare BYU, where a quarter of a student’s classes are in Mormon religion. Then come the extracurricular responsibilities, with church services, Family Home Evening, Home and Visiting Teaching, and other activities, which take 10 hours a week? 15? Students at other schools spend time drinking, certainly, but perhaps that is the equivalent of a BYU undergrad’s time dating. If this is roughly correct, and we assume equal diligence among students at different colleges, then four years’ study at BYU equates to three years’ work at other universities. This is a huge drawback to anyone who wants togain a “world-class” education.
Another element of a good college education is conflict. These are years in which most young people take lots of different courses, try on different intellectual personae to see what fits, and argue with each other and their professors incessantly. Yet BYU does not offer undergraduates this sort of opportunity to learn through argumentation and experimentation. Not only does the Church teach that contention is of the devil and keep people frenetically busy, it actually fires and excommunicates (both literally and in the sense of ostracism) teachers who question its doctrines and policies. The September Six are an example of this, but so too was the effective purge of those Dialogue readers and other heretics in the BYU English Department. To say that this does not stifle free expression and learning strikes me as untenable.
Nor can one reasonably assert that BYU does not repress certain categories of study. American archaeology starts from the premise that the Book of Mormon is true, which obviously impairs research–or at least the teaching of research findings. If we believe Simon Southerton, there are geneticists at BYU and Sorenson who privately believe that DNA evidence disproves the Book of Mormon yet dare not say so openly. And does anyone believe that sociologists feel free to publish peer-reviewed articles describing the rate of depression among Mormon women or that psychologists think it safe to teach modern theories of homosexuality? These flaws seriously impair the value of BYU degrees in many of the social sciences and humanities.
The bottom line is that BYU is not a university. What it teaches is not a “universe” of knowledge and hypotheses but rather that smaller corpus of worldly wisdom that accords with whatever the Church teaches as doctrine at any given point in time. In a previous thread I called BYU a “seminary” because of the narrow range of thought that it allows, though that is frankly unfair to those Catholic schools that encourage wide-ranging discussion of God and truth. Mormonism is frankly afraid of open dialogue because its leaders are not sure that their vision will prevail in the marketplace of ideas.
Perhaps the better analogy is to totalitarians states like the Soviet Union, China, or the old South Africa. In those places the brightest students opted for degrees in medicine, engineering and other technical fields because they brought status and income without political risk. Mavericks would study politics or history but these people often ended up in jail because someone or other in the political hierarchy took offense at what they were doing–a bit like Boyd K. Packer reaching down to ruin professors’ lives. The situation of artists in totalitarian polities is similarly tenuous. When Stalin changed his mind about what styles and subject matter were appropriate, the result was the firing of many artists and writers, the imprisonment of some, and even an occasional execution. Mormonism is not comparably ruthless, of course, but its leaders have made life uncomfortable for the more creative in the community–many of whom have left the Church or, at least, BYU.
In the late 1970s Spencer W. Kimball said that Mormonism should produce the best art, music and literature the world has ever seen because it started with more divine truth. What he did not understand is that creativity is a delicate flower, one that sprouts in the hothouse of experimentation and cannot withstand much environmental pressure. Mormonism lacks both the willingness to tolerate experimentation and the freedom from political storms necessary to nurture art. As in a totalitarian country, any senior leader may condemn a classical painting because it is immodest or instruct a writer or director to revise or abandon his work. This seriously reduces the probability that the artist will produce something of great beauty. So while Mormonism may spawn superb technicians, administrators and business people, it is unlikely to yield major breakthroughs in art, literature, or the social sciences. Given this fact, asking BYU to achieve “world-class” status as a university is unrealistic.
| It really is the “The Church of the Narcissit Personality Disorder” founded by the narcissist Joseph Smith.
I was just reading about this disorder on the web and was again struck by the many behaviors the Church and it’s members exhibit that are narcissic traits. (some listed below)
1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love: Can you say “We can become Gods”
3. Believes they are "special" and can only be understood by, or should associate with, people (or institutions) who are also "special" or of high status
4. Requires excessive admiration: Got to go EVERY Sunday and proclaim what a wonderful church you belong to. "I don't know what I'd do with out the Church"
5. Has a sense of entitlement: self explanitory
6. Is interpersonally exploitative
7. Lacks empathy: The Church doesn’t care how much they take advantage of people or how they exploit the resources of the family. They don’t care if they take Mothers and Fathers away from family time to do Church realted tasks or if a family is financilly stugging. They don’t care as long as they are getting what they want from members.
8. Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes: Church and Members
| Mormons have that thing about being a peculiar people, and for me it was a huge negative.
A lot of people want more attention. I attract it naturally, whether I want it or not. I was 6 feet tall in the 8th grade. My height is much less of a novelty now, but when I was growing up, I felt as if I was on display all the time. I'd walk into a place, and everyone would look. Plus I have an unusual first name. Whenever I would meet someone new, first we'd have to talk about my height, and then my name. It's like being public property. I was well into my twenties before I began to get comfortable with it and stopped wanting to fade into the woodwork.
So I felt plenty peculiar long before I was dragged, mentally kicking and screaming, to church in 1975 (at age 15). Before that, my family was inactive and I only went to Primary and Mutual. It felt like a social thing. A lot of the other kids in my neighborhood were in the same situation, and I don't remember it being an issue that we didn't go to church on Sunday. I didn't think of myself as a Mormon. I'm not even sure I realized it was a religion.
In 1973, my dad was transferred to Denver. I stayed with my nice grandma in Salt Lake for the first year--I thought because I had braces on my teeth, but my brother (with the massive church-related financial issues) insists it was because our parents couldn't afford me. I went to a different school that year, felt accepted by the kids, went to Mutual in that ward, same deal, no problem.
It wasn't as easy the next year, when I joined the fam in Arvada, Colorado. The first girls I met from the neighborhood were ... well, let's just say they weren't like the Salt Lake neighborhood girls. They were welcoming at first, but we quickly realized we had little in common, or so it seemed at the time, and from that point forward I had fewer friends than I'd had in Salt Lake.
So here I am in this new place, struggling with whether to be a goody 2-shoes or more like the neighborhood girls--which, even if I'd wanted to be like them, my parents wouldn't let me. Eventually I found a kind of in-between place that most parents would have thought was normal, but mine didn't approve.
My dad was a tyrant who seemed to get off on sticking out like a sore thumb and didn't give a crap if I fit in or not. He's the one who gave me my conversation piece of a name and was always threatening to smack me if I didn't stand up straight. He was omnipresent, uncompromising, and inescapable. He made sure I wasn't wearing too much makeup, the hems of my jeans weren't touching the ground (at a time when it was fashionable for them to drag--Brobotaz and I both have a thing about flood pants), and my skirts weren't more than 3-4 inches above my knees. That's not exactly a miniskirt when your legs are 3 feet long. I couldn't wear a lot of things that were in style at the time including cutoffs, spaghetti straps, tube tops, flip flops, or platform shoes. I was relieved when the skirts went down, 1975-6ish, because it eliminated one of many constant struggles with the Supreme King Boss Man of Everything.
I couldn't get my ears pierced, either, but that was my mom's doing. And she supported Dad in all the other stupid stuff. It didn't occur to me to defy them or even talk back, because the consequences would be severe. If I sneaked, I was sure I'd get caught.
I think my dad was so controlling because he'd lost his father at age 6 and gotten an abusive stepfather instead. He was still that little boy, trying to control what he could. He would sort of like imprint on men he knew and admired, and emulate them. He made friends with an active Mormon guy from work, at the same time my parents' marriage needed some work. Next thing I know, I'm being forced to go to church.
I didn't feel like I fit in there, either, having settled into the middle place between goody 2-shoes and druggy slut. Well, maybe not quite the middle--I'd have to have been wearing a tube top and dragging jeans, or some high wooden platforms or something, to be in the middle. Maybe some of those Candie's slides that I always wanted but couldn't have in high school and now don't come in my size since my feet got bigger ...
Anyway, there were maybe a dozen Mormon kids in my high school, and I didn't want to be one. Never mind all the things I wasn't allowed to wear, say, do, or be, and all the wacky doctrinal stuff I'd never heard in Salt Lake. It felt like a masquerade, like we were trying to be something we weren't. I don't think either of my parents really believed it, and especially my dad. It certainly didn't fix their marriage.
My dad felt incompetent, or perhaps unworthy, to give me a blessing when I got really sick with the mysterious tonsillitis that lasted a month and landed me in the hospital with a 50-50 chance of surviving a tonsillectomy ... or so he said (I think for effect). He asked his friend/father figure du Jour, the EQ president (Dad was his 2nd counselor), to do it and then told me after the fact that the Lord made me sick to teach me a lesson, that I couldn't just do whatever I wanted. As if I didn't already know that!
The churchgoing lasted about 5 years, during which time I was the female "worst kid in the ward"--you know, the one all the other parents are glad isn't theirs, the one who gets talked about and tattled on about every five minutes. And I didn't do much other than smoke cigarettes. I skipped a lot of classes, had a few beers, smoked pot once, and made out on the bus to the Manti temple.
Oh, and I got busted once for shoplifting, first and only time I tried it--with one of the neighborhood girls. It was her idea, and I let her talk me into it. My dad--who acted like he knew everything and I'd have expected to handle it himself--inexplicably called the bishop, who came right over and gave me a lecture. Ugh.
When I was in my early thirties, someone at work observed that when my environment changes, I sort of lose myself and flounder around for a while, trying to figure out who to be. The person who said that was a snake, but it was true. It still is, to some extent, and now I know where it came from: those few years of forced participation in the Mormon church, trying to be two different things that felt wrong instead of who I really was. Nobody cared who I really was.
They made me coach girls' basketball, last thing in the world I wanted to do. At school, the basketball coach pestered me to death. It got so I'd duck down a side hallway or into the restroom whenever I saw him coming. It was OK to tell him no, but not the buttoned-up bishop with the bad toupee, who always somehow magically knew I'd been smoking.
I could go on, but I don't like talking about it in that much detail. It was just the worst possible timing, five years of weirdness and embarrassment, and only in recent years have I realized the profound effect it had on my psyche.
Peculiar people ... it's not a good thing!
| I recently had a good chat with a former stake president who was still active in the church but seemed disappointed in what he had seen in upper church leadership. He said right after he was set apart as stake president a general authority flew into the local airport and wanted to be picked up. He said the general authority was very arrogant and didn't even bother to shake his hand. He then said the general authority started complaining about the stake's statistics and said he had come up from Salt Lake to put things back on track.
The main complaint was the tithing coming from the stake. The general authority said it should be higher since the stake had a hospital and a university within it's boundaries. He said in Utah, such areas generate this much tithing and the new stake president's stake was below that average. The new stake president had been a bishop, high councilman, and counciler to the stake president, he knew his stake well and told the GA the biggest problem in the stake was poverty. He said yes we have doctors and highly paid university people but we also have a lot of low income areas. Also the million dollar homes are not in our stake but farther up the hill from the university.
He said the GA was a total jerk and it was apparent all they cared about at his level was retaining high tithing paying members. He said the man viewed lower income members as just filler and didn't care about them. His main interest was there should be more tithing income from your area and what is the problem.
The true church in action. This poor man has spent a good share of his adult life in demanding church callings. His life revolved around the church. He was my bishop when I was in high school and he was a good person. He just sounded like his whole world was turning upside down. I wonder how many more are like him and what that means for the future of the money grubbing church.
| Every member is a missionary we were taught. Every opportunity to share the gospel must be taken.
As a member, a person that was not a member was a target. If a person had not heard of the gospel, the gospel must be shared. If they reject the gospel, then Satan is working hard on them to deceive. Prayer and scripture study and righteousness was the only cure. Put a Book Of Mormon in their hands. If you can just get them to read it, if you can just get them to feel the spirit.
Because of this, my friendships with many people were shallow because they were always based on an ulterior motive: Convert everyone to Mormonism.
Anyone who is not a member is a target.
Anyone who has rejected Mormonism is an enemy of God.
The thinking was black and white, and I am ashamed of myself.
Now that I have been out of Mormonism for a long time (really, I was on my way out long before I resigned), I have friendships that are based on genuine feelings for human beings, regardless of how they look, how they act or what they believe in. I have friends who are difficult, but I still remain friends with them, even if I have to put them on ignore for a few days.
Mormonism taught me to be a peculiar person. It closed me in to a circle of fear. It closed me off from the real world. It taught me to be afraid of anyone who was not Mormon, and to trust implicitly anyone who was Mormon.
I have come across story after story after story in Ex-Mormonism of Mormons who cross boundary lines in deceptive "friendships" in order to "share the gospel". Non Mormons who move into a neighborhood who are instantly befriended by Mormons who bring cookies, cakes and goodwill. But suddenly invites to dinners turn out to be shadowed by Mormon missionaries who have also been invited without telling the non Mormons. "Parties" without the word "Ward" attached to them are given to non Members who suddenly find themselves in a Mormon church parking lot with Mormons swarming over them like bees in a hive trying to get a Book of Mormon into the visitor's pockets.
Mormons just can't be friends. They can't be neighbors without shoving Joseph Smith in front of them. Mormons are disingenuous and always with ulterior motives.
Those that reject the advances of Mormons then become shunned. The fountain of gifts, love bombs and charity suddenly turn as dry as the Sahara Desert. The missionaries are then let loose on the new family because the Ward member's "sincere" actions are no longer working. Mormon men in business suits show up at ungodly hours - without notice - to give council and bare testimonies, rather than just be neighbors, shake hands and say hello. Any rejection is seen as hard heartedness or some cases "devilish". If the family drinks, smokes or has any "standard" that is not in line with LDS Inc. - those are added onto the fire of "why they won't receive the gospel".
Mormons can't be real friends. You either are one of them, or one of "those".
| I grew up in a ward with some of the nuttiest, conspiracy theorists ever. Unfortunately I also married into tin foil hat central. I have heard of some wards that are more sane than others but my experience was one of an endless round of nuttiness.
I have read similar things on this board before but wanted to put my experiences with TBMs out there also.
The people in my ward had an endless stream of "prophecies" about the Second Coming of Christ. I am sure I forgot a few dates but there was 1978, 1984, 1989, 1994, and 2000.
In preparation for the end many of the members of the ward purchased farms and their relatives from around the U.S. moved in and built houses on these farms or compounds if you will (aka living in your mother's basement when you are 40 and married with kids). These farm nuts still live here and are actually gaining in population as kids move back, build, and start families. Our current bishop is one of these compound dwellers. They home school to remain untainted by the local (very conservative and very Christian) community.
Alternative medicine is embraced and the medical community is viewed to varying degrees as either deluded or part of several government plots. "They" are out to get us after all. If any of you here know who "they" really are could you clue me in?
Enemas are the be all and end all in medical cures according to these folks. If they have anything worse than a sniffle (or a cleanse as these nutcases call it) you can guarantee they will have a tube hanging out of their @$$ with some drink or diluted food product being pumped into their rectum.
Viruses do not exist. The concept of a virus is a government conspiracy for...well...I am not sure what for. Killing off the elderly and young seems to be a common fear of these folks.
Vaccinations are a government plot to kill off the young and the elderly.
Foreign troops have been positioned in the U.S. in preparation for quelling the riots that will take place after various events. Why people will riot after these various events has never been completely explained. The one that really left me scratching my head was the prediction that their would be riots after Clinton won the 1992 election. My TBM ex had a revelation about these riots and worked diligently to get me to pray about it so that I would vote for the right people too.
The list of such crazy making goes on for pages. The sad thing is that my TBM ex is still bat shit crazy but she is working with the Primary and Young Women in the ward. So I hope that those of you who are still TBM are aware that TSCC is cool with such nuts teaching your children.
Don't worry though...your bishop interviewed this women and found her fit in every way to work with your children. If your kid comes home from primary wearing a foil hat or with a tube hanging out of their shorts that is just the new leniency for the right wing within TSCC. But don't you dare challenge historical claims of TSCC...because that will get you excommunicated.
With a conclusion such as 'Today members of the LDS Church concentrate on the body and blood of Christ more than the nails and wood.' the author is just conveying to other mormons 'Our views are BETTER than their views'
And misrepresents the cross while he is at it.
The cross is much more than 'nails and wood' for Christians.
| Let's face it...the Book of Mormon and the doctrines of Mormonism are fiction. They come from the fertile mind of Joseph Smith and his associates, and by some odd reason they have fooled a few million people that they are actual 'fact' as in Barack Obama is president type fact, and not a subjective 'fact' like gambling can pay off.
So forced through life to adhere to a fictional account of the native americans dealings with God, I have come to the conclusion that the Book of Mormon is 'true' in the sense that it has truly had some influence in my life. Most of it harmful, some of it good, some of it boring.
So I was trying to think what other 'myths' have been as true for me, or more true to me than Mormonism has been. Some of these may seem odd, but taking the spirit of confirming truth, than I CAN'T SAY that these thing ARE NOT TRUE, if I must go by the feelings they have engendered in me.
So here are a list of items that though they are FALSE/FICTION, yet they have had the same meaning or more than Mormonism has.
Star Trek: (I told you that I might have some interesting stuff) Reading novels, watching the show,anticipating a movie coming out, drawing and doing 'star trek' spaceships art. Live long and prosper. the Prime Directive, etc. If the truth must be told, I was more emotional hearing that DeForest Kelly (Dr. McCoy) had died than I was that Neal A. Maxwell had died. I must confess, I have had more joy being a Trekkie than I have being a Mormon.
Star Wars: (Yes, I am a nerd) Learning that Darth Vader was Lukes father, watching Anakin turn to the Darkside of the Force, watching Luke come out good in the end taught me as much of a lesson about perseverance than reading about Ammon chopping some guys arms off.
Battlestar Galactica: I absolutely loved the new series and would wait faithfully each week in anticipation of watching it. I would contemplate the plot and what strange angles would come out of it next.
The Xanth Series by Piers Anthony: Great books though they started getting stale as the series went along. Still..
The Lord of the Rings: On some parts of this when they were going through all there trials and troubles, I cried just like I would after praying about the BOM.
I have also found that some of the 'men' we should not put our trust in over the Brethren have spoken much more closely to my heart than the Book of Mormon has...Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Tom Hopkins, etc.
And I don't have to feel bummed if I find out one has had an affair. They give out practical advise for business and life without saying they have been sent on a mission by God.
Also watching the opening ceremonies of the olympics has at time been more spiritual for me than a sacrament meeting.
And yet all of these things (excepting maybe the business guru and the olympics, are fiction, admit to be fiction, and don't claim to do anything else) They have done as much or more for my life than the BOM, or for that matter the Bible. Middle Earth is more true than Zarahemla is to me, but I don't have to worry about finding artifacts to prove it, or be afraid of losing my emotional and mental mind if I find out it's false.
| The various religious organizations called Quakers were once powerful in colonial America. At the zenith of their influence, the Quakers were among the most influential religious groups in America. William J. Whalen, author of “Revised Separated Brethren: A Review of Protestant, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and Other Religions in the United States”, Bruce Publishing Company, (2002) includes a chapter explaining Quakerism to Catholic parishioners.
Whalen notes that by “1700 Quakers owned not only Pennsylvania but New Jersey and Delaware, controlled Rhode Island and the Carolinas, and had strength in New York and Maryland. They constituted the greatest single religious community in the New World at this time .” (Whalen at 123.)
Yet, Quakers lost their vast influential sphere and membership going from 60,000 parishioners in 1700 to only 17,000 in 1800. Id.
Whalen attributes Quakerism’s sharp decline to the following factors:
The modern plight of Mormonism reflects some of the same factors which contributed to the decline of Quakerism, such as:
- Neglect of church organization as Quakers became influenced by Quietism.
- Loss of birthright members who became indifferent to the Quaker message.
- Quakers who were stricken from the rolls of Quaker communities during orthodox purges.
- Lack of missionary efforts and replenishment.
- Challenge by Elias Hicks who presented a Modernist theology requiring a century of experience for Quakerism to adopt.
It is not difficult to see the Mormon religion as a smaller fringe organization than it is today largely because it has failed to overcome many of the same problems that plagued that Quaker movement in the 18th century.
- Correlation has overly concentrated on orthodoxy to combat outside influences thus causing stagnation in the LDS church. Although Mormonism may not be influenced by Quietism, an over concentration on orthodoxy has paralyzed its growth. Instead of nature growth, the church has entrenched itself on its modern day fixation of conformity and conservative Christian evangelicalism
- During the last twenty years, the LDS church continues to lose its youth membership. Today, the LDS church can only claim 2/3 of the missionaries that it could during the 1990’s. Increasingly LDS youth and departing in large numbers. Also, loyal members confronted with various historical, social or doctrinal challenges feel freer to depart the faith of their fathers.
- The LDS church has a low retention rate among those recently baptized and have allowed loyal dissidents to leave the church or be excommunicated for apostasy.
- The LDS church, although seeking new converts, is not enjoying missionary success. Non-biased surveys indicate that the LDS church has zenithed in earning new converts.
- The LDS church is thirty or so years behind social advances and movements such as racial equality, sex/gender equality and homosexual awareness and acceptance. The LDS continues to ignore or deny past historical truths which are well documented and available, and avoid scientific knowledge such as Native American DNA demonstrating to near exclusive East Asian origins and Egyptology invalidating the Book of Abraham as authentic.
| With Mormonism's indoctrination that ordinances are required to infuse almost every spiritually significant experience with God's power and make it valid, I used to wonder why there are certain gaps in ordinances.
For example, there is no ordinance in making the garments. A piece of rag has symbols stitched onto it by a sewing machine and it miraculously becomes the garment of the holy priesthood. No special blessing required. (For JS to receive the priesthood required the appearance of Peter, James and John to pass on the unbroken chain.)
Excommunication requires no ordinance. You can't receive baptism or temple ordinances except under perfect conditions (full immersion under the water, endowments in a temple, blessing when called and released from callings, etc) yet to cancel those ordinances, there is no ordinance. Writing excommunicated on a piece of paper in a file is enough to cancel these supposedly powerful ordinances in the eyes of God.
Ordination to the priesthood can be de-ordained with a simple note in the file.
Canceling a temple sealing requires no ordinance. Malachi needed to appear to restore the sealing power, but a simple administrative note in a file can cancel a temple sealing.
And missing revelations too. The words of the baptism prayer must be said exactly and the words for the sacrament blessing must be uttered exactly. There are two sections which contain the words.
Yet, there is no claim anywhere that Smith received the temple ordinances by revelation. Trying to understand the temple led me out of the church.
I was startled to learn that the church didn't even pretend to have any revelation about the temple ordinances. I had also assumed that the church kept the revelation closely guarded because of the so-called sacred nature of the ordinances. But there is no claim whatsoever that Smith received a revelation. What I did find is that after becoming a Freemason, Smith spent weeks working up a new ceremony which he introduced to his Freemason church leaders/friends.
| How many times do people need to be told that stealing, lying, and cheating, for example, are wrong before they conclude that such behaviors are inappropriate? In normal, secular society, only a few times at the most, based on my experience and observations over 40+ years.
People who steal, lie or cheat (and get caught) are usually held to account - at school, work, etc. Many don't repeat their dysfunctional behavior because they'll fail the class, be kicked out of school, lose their job, or suffer some other type of negative outcome (punishment suited to the crime, so to speak).
As individuals, they often reason ALL BY THEMSELVES that they need to change their behavior - and do so. Such is the transformative power of rational thinking and freedom from religion-induced fear, guilt, and shame.
As I reflect on more than a quarter century in the unreasonable (i.e., dysfunctional) LDS Church, one of the aspects of Mormonism that stands out in my mind is the enormous - and hugely wasteful - amount of time that Mormons spent hearing (ad nauseum) what they should and shouldn't do in order to be 'good' church members and 'good' members of society.
Was there something wrong with their brains? Their memory? Did Mormons forget what they heard last week, month, or year? Did they forget what they read in LDS scriptures or church magazines? Was their memory so flawed that without frequent reminders of the 'right' ways of behaving, they would quickly degenerate into 'bad' people?
If yes, how were non-Mormons able to remember, day after day, week after week, year in, year out how to behave appropriately when they didn't have the 'one, true' church, priesthood leaders, home and visiting teachers, youth leaders, General Authorities, etc. constantly reminding them?!
Answer: They exercised their mind and thought rationally.
| So many stories here reflect a deep fear of losing our souls for failing to believe correctly. Me, I am guilty also and it took a long time to overcome the fear.
But if we look at these recent threads of businesses run by the church with "missionary" labor, and apologists who act like they're defending the faith while denying every leaders' words, when we look at these things our hearts and souls should cry out- not in fear or torment, but in pleas for justice to be done. For people to be released from bondage and anguish.
We need only to look at what is being done in the church to know that it does not have any divine authority that can affect our standing before God in any fashion, and that the only thing we have to fear is the consequences of believing in it, losing faith because of it, and allowing our children and others to become ensnared in it.
That said, this comes after two long years of deep soulsearching and obsessive study, so it is easy (now) to see it for what it is. To those who are beginning this long painful journey I say- you've been blesed that your eyes will see, that your eaers may hear and you intellect that it may discern truth from error. Use these blessings and do it without fear. There is nothing to be afraid of except the actions of people.
| At some point you probably need to "throw the switch", and inform the mobots that your thoughts and decisions about what church to belong to are yours alone. |
A fundamental tenet of mormonism is that your business is everyone's business.
1. Gain a firm conviction in your own mind that the previous "philosophy" is nonsense.
2. Defend your right to be the steward of your own life. Inevitably that entails putting officious mormons in their place. Once you get comfortable with the notion, you can find fulfillment in its exercise, because you are actually performing a public service: disempowering self-congratulatory narcissists is good for society and good for the delusional as well.
When spurious authority is not confronted, it is encouraged.
| Mormons pick faith over skepticism because faith is noble.
Faith is believing that which we cannot prove, know or sense reliably. Faith makes a virtue of ignorance and half-witted feeling.
Some say that the reason for faith is to test if we will do what God asks without having proof. To see what kind of person we truly are.
If this is so, the test is often biased to begin with. Since early indoctrination of children goes a long way towards all but proving God, as children are gullible enough to believe in tooth fairies, santas and easter bunnies. Placing fear of God, or punishments or loosing eternal rewards, will cause even the slight doubter to bet, a la Pascal, in favor of chance that God is there and to diss him is worse than to miss out on a little fun in life.
Such early indoctrination (which is highly common in the USA in some religious context) shows us the faith-test is flawed. If one wants to know the true person, the true inner character, then let's see what that person does absent any threat of punishment or eternal promise of reward.
****In other words, the truest test of a person is to see how they would act and treat others if they were atheists, or at least agnostics.***
Mormons claim that one gains faith through the spirit, which gives us good feelings.
Faith is a subjective emotional response upon which a swath of the faithful claims testifies of absolute and objective law from God. That is, a subjective experience is God's primary way to witness the absolute truth.
But I ask, why would God, who's claimed to be perfect and organized, expect us to use half-witted feelings to discover unbending truths? Would the "Supreme Intelligence" expect us to find him with willie-nillie feelings or careful meticulous, well-thought out scientific methods (i.e., skepticism)?
| My testimony was based upon Moroni 10:4and5. That's why *I* knew the church was true. I had a spiritual testimony, not a logical one.
When I was on my mission I gave investigators the example of a lock and key: if I gave you a key and told you it would open that lock, and it did, then you would know that the Key was a true key. My analogy seemed plausible, if you generally understood the basics of locks and keys, namely that a key is designed to open a specific lock.
The problem with that analogy when it came to Moroni 10:4and5 is that Moroni's "promise" doesn't really promise you anything. "By the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things" has no objective test. When I began to question that and ask the Holy Ghost more specific, real world things, I realized that I wasn't able to know anything "...by the power of the holy spook."
That's when I finally understood the flaw in my lock and key analogy. I had a key (prayer) and a lock (was the church true?) but what I didn't understand was that the lock had no lock-brains in it, so I didn't need the key, a stick would have opened it.
Prayer can't give you "knowledge" about anything. You can't know the cult is true by praying. You can get a good feeling about just about anything and if you pose the question correctly, you can get the good feeling that you should butcher Brenda and Erica Lafferty.
That's the key to Moroni 10:4and5.
| I wrote yesterday about the loss of community that a person experiences when he or she leaves the LDS church. But the loss is much greater than that. Mormonism isn't just a religion or a community; it is reality. By that I mean that when one is immersed in Mormonism, it explains everything about how the universe operates, so one sees the universe always through a Mormon interpretation. That may seem like an overstatement, and maybe it is for some people, but it wasn't for me.
I once heard literary theorist Terry Eagleton complain that Margaret Thatcher's government was trying to make certain thoughts "unthinkable." I asked him after the lecture if that wasn't the goal of most ideological systems, including his own Marxism. He said that I was probably right, but that it depended on what you were trying to render unthinkable. For me, and I suspect many others, the unthinkable thought was that Mormonism might not be true, after all. Mormonism was reality for me. If it wasn't true, then nothing was real, at least not in the way I had structured my life.
When people recognize that they don't believe anymore, the superstructure of reality around which they have based their lives collapses. They don't know what is real, and they don't know who they are. This is, needless to say, an incredibly humbling experience to admit that they don't know what they thought they knew. But they're not doing this alone; they're still in the same world, with the same people, but they have no anchors.
It's at this stage that a lot of people feel hurt and angry, both because they feel they've swallowed a big lie, but also because it's next to impossible to explain how they're feeling and why to their Mormon family and friends, who simply don't understand the hurt or the anger. I'm reminded of a CD that I have had for many years. In one song, "Tramp the Dirt Down," Elvis Costello sings about his visceral hatred for Margaret Thatcher" I'd like to live long enough to savour, that when they finally put you in the ground I'll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down."
That song always mystified me because I couldn't imagine being that angry towards another person, particularly one whom I didn't know. But then I happened to hear it during those awful days of hurt and anger after my loss of faith, and some things resonated with me. One particular verse struck me:
Just like a schoolboy, whose head's like a tin can
filled up with dreams then poured down the drain
That's how many feel when they lose the church and the gospel. The dreams and goals and hopes of a life (mortal and eternal) within Mormonism are gone, poured down the drain. A friend told her husband that she was angry at him for "finding out the truth," as it had changed everything in their lives: their dreams, their goals, their family, their marriage. It's a devastating loss, no matter how loath some are to acknowledge that loss.
Reactions to one's apostasy are pretty predictable. As some have said here, most people believe their is no valid reason for leaving the church, and by extension, there's no valid reason for feeling hurt or loss or anger. And oddly enough, few people actually try to help the wayward soul regain his or her spiritual footing. When I went through this experience, the only person who really reached out to help me resolve my issues was Dan Peterson, and I appreciate that; unfortunately, by the time he offered I was too far into the anger stage.
But it's natural that people who are hurting and angry and looking for support and, yes, validation, gravitate toward other people in the same situation who are often angry and hurt, too. And it's natural to feel that anger after a loss; it's part of the grieving process. But, like all stages of the grieving process, it must pass for people to heal. It does no one any good to wallow in anger. As I said yesterday, it's never healthy to define yourself by what you are not. It's important to be a person, not just an "ex-Mormon." But it's also not fair to hold up the angry and hurting as exemplifying the sum total of people's experience after leaving the church. Most people move on, eventually, and even on the most virulent "cesspools of hatred," most people post for a month or two, get over the anger, and move on with their lives.
So, no, this is not an attempt to justify anger. Anger is not a positive energy, contrary to John Lydon. It is what it is, and it is understandable. And if we understand why people are hurt and angry, we might actually be able to help them. There is a lot of compassion and kindness around, and it's not totally absent from any community.
In the end, you have to move on and walk away. I would imagine that Elvis Costello isn't still seething with hatred for Margaret Thatcher 23 years later, and I doubt very much that he'll visit her grave when she dies, much less tramp the dirt down. It takes some time, but you eventually walk way. You don't forget what you've experienced, but you don't stew in it. It would be nice to say as Elvis did
Well I hope you live long now, I pray the Lord your soul to keep
I think I'll be going before we fold our arms and start to weep
Let someone else tramp the dirt down.
| I have tried to wrap my mind around why the General Authorities and leaders of the church keep up the same old tired claims and don't acknowledge the fraud. Then, while contemplating this morning I equated it to my own career and way of life. Bear with me as I try to explain.
I have worked in the same field for almost 20 years. It is a career that wasn't my first choice out of college but I worked hard and rose through the ranks of my industry eventually reaching the top 10% of all employees of my company. As I progressed upward I drank the company Koolaid and towed the company line. I was eager to impress my peers and managers and worked for public admiration and recognition.
I was a rising superstar who pushed all the right buttons and did all the right things and made my company lots of money.
As the years have progressed I have more responsibilities and have more insight into my industry. I have come to the conclusion that my firm is just like all others in my industry. We all sell and service the same products, have customer service departments, provide the same or similar level of service, yet in our meetings and workshops we brag about our superior products, service, and customer service. When I conduct training for new employees I stress that we are the best in the business and are growing in a difficult business environment.
Technically we are growing. Up about .5 percent over last year. But we are growing. But our new employee training classes are geared to indoctrinate our new hires how great it is to work for our firm and how we are better than the rest. It is repeated over and over every day so that when a new employee is released to their department for assignment all they know is our way of doing things and how great it is. They don't know any better.
Yet I know better.
I know that there are 6-8 national firms just like us. But I'll continue to profess my loyalty for my firm. Why?
Because I have some of the best health insurance in the world, my company contributes to my 401(k) even in down times, I make a wonderful living, I have lots of freedom in my career, and my peers see me as successful and one to be looked up to. My office walls are lined with plaques and awards for my years of service and performance. When another manager needs help they call me. I am consulted by those over me for my opinion on important business decisions. And do you want to know how I feel?
I could care less about the organization I work for. I'm in it for myself and my family. As long as I play the game and continue to be a team player and lead my field I am safe. My family can travel and live comfortably. My peers will continue to recognize me in company meetings. Those who are below me in the company hierarchy will continue to tell themselves that if The Drive can do it then so can I.
My clients will faithfully follow my recommendations and will disregard what my competitors say because we have relationships and they have a financial commitment with my company. It would be too difficult for them to change and look elsewhere because their companies are committed to my firm with long-term contracts. For them to break those contracts would cost them lots of money and my contacts in those firms may lose face with their companies by acknowledging that they made a mistake.
So I continue to play the game. It's easier than quitting my job, admitting that my firm isn't the best, and that I have wasted the past 20 years of my life pushing a product that is just like any other out there. So I live the life that I have chosen and am rewarded handsomely for my faithfulness and service. And nobody, except myself, knows any better.
And that's how the leaders of the church must feel when they finally realize that they are no different than any other person or the church is no different that any other. But they can't throw it away now because they have too much invested in it and enjoy their status in life. Just like me.
| When you first hear the story of Mormonism it revolves around a young boy who has a vision, for which there is no corroboration, who then gets Golden Plates that he claims to have translated.
When you ask to see the plates, they can't be produced - instead you are taken on a journey. This is the Journey Away from the Promised Land of Evidence.
You never get to see the plates. Anyone with a brain should not accept the misdirections required to ignore the fact that the seminal claim is missing: Golden Plates.
What is trotted out is now a wonderful story of Witnesses, Israelite sailors, conversations with the Holy Ghost, running through woods with 150 lb. gold plates, burning bosoms, persecutions, Laminated/Nephitated battles etc.
But -- no plates.
Don't dwell on that fact. Just let the mishies, apologists, Mormonite faithful take you on the Journey Away from the Promised Land of Evidence. Wander around in the missing bones of horses. Try to figure out if obsidian axes really could be "steel swords". Spend all your time just ignoring the fact that the essential claim - Golden Plates - are brushed away. Easily. Completely.
Play the game the LDS way: direct your attention away from the Man Behind The Curtain...i.e. The Golden Plates.
Eventually, I think that says it all.
| Growing up in the church I heard constantly that when the nation hung by a thread the LDS priesthood would save it. Right now we are the largest debtor nation in world history. The US Dollar is being devalued. One of the solutions being openly talked about is replacing the dollar with an multi-national integrated currency. There is open talk about solving global problems with global government while our president is also chairman of The United Nations Security Council.
This is going on while we are involved in two wars, terrorism is still a threat, and the world teeters on an economic catastrophe once all the money printing hits diminishing returns. Then war is a historical result.
What is the church doing while all this is going on? Spending $3 billion on a mall and luxery condos nobody needs. Building more ugly meetinghouses and temples. Repeating the same boring crap they have been spewing for years.
It's interesting to note the church went out of it's way to invite president Bush to speak at BYU's commencement. The president who did in the US Constitution with the Patriot act. Bush couldn't make it so they got VP Dick Cheney who seems to like Mormons to plan CIA torture techniques.
So not only does the church basically do nothing to save the nation. It kisses the butt of those who are doing it in. This isn't the vision Ezra Taft Benson painted when he said the Elders of Zion would save the US Constitution. Maybe he was reffering to the Jews instead.
| Of course, Mormons have long argued that JS COULDN'T have possibly written the BofM, but let's look at it as a piece of literature.
Authors write what they know. Jane Austen, inventor of the romantic comedy, wrote about love, romance and courtship in rural England. She lived and wrote during the Napoleonic Wars, and yet the only thing she writes about soldiers is how dashing they look at fancy dress parties.
Dickens and Orwell were obviously products of their times, and their novels, imaginative and powerful, reflect the zeitgeist of their eras.
JRR Tolkien was a linguistic and expert in Nordic lore. He translated Beowulf. He was also an older scholar with a wife and kids. His works draw heavily from Anglo-Saxon and Nordic traditions, and his love stories describe the emotions a father and husband would understand intimately. JK Rawlings clearly knows a bit about late 20th C. Britain and British public (boarding) schools, as well as a lot about tweens.
The Book of Mormon is clearly rooted in early 19th Century Americana. It's written from the perspective of a 20-something never married male who loves the Bible and Biblical battle scenes, but who has limited knowledge of military. The writer knows quite a bit about agriculture.
Let's take relationships: there are no women in the BofM. Nephi's mother is mentioned by name, but we know precious little of her other than she has a name and is very supportive of her husband. Nephi's wife is there to provide off-spring; there is no romantic story there and she isn't even named. No women are named after that, but we know they exist because Lehi's offspring reproduce at a rate mathematically impossible.
The strongest relationships are brotherly and filial. The entire civilization is based on a split between brothers. Sons are expected to be loyal and carry on their father's traditions. History is very important to the author, although he doesn't seem to grasp a lot of nuances of history.
Americana is very important to him. America is the Promised Land. You have to be righteous to live here, or be swept off. People come to America by boat from the Old World to the New via boat across the Atlantic Ocean. There is lots of empty, fertile land waiting to be settled along the frontier, but occasionally you discover remnants of older civilizations, or even people as you explore.
Militarily, the author loves grandiose battles fought with epic armies using Iron-age weaponry and tactics, including horse-drawn chariots and cavalry. These armies fight to the death repeatedly in constant civil war. The author doesn't seem to understand tactics or that there must be massive civilizations to support these huge armies.
The author is steeped in the Bible and concerned with issues that brewed during the 2nd Great Awakening. He liberally quotes from the KJV and many of the original stories are obviously inspired by the Bible. Mass conversions and apostasies figure prominently.
Like the Bible, many analogies and parallels are agricultural in nature. The author knew a lot about tilling, grafting and animal husbandry. Saying that he was a small farmer is not a stretch.
The book is obviously intended for an audience and the narrator(s) break the 4th wall many times. Like "I, Claudius", it is not intended for an audience contemporary to the characters but more for the author's time.
Reading the book, it is highly unlikely that an old general, veteran of Civil War and father of at least one loyal son, wrote the book. It appears far more likely to spring from the imagination of an early 19th Century, unmarried, 20-something American male. He didn't like slavery, was deeply interested in history, religion and, like lots of young males, fascinated by war. He knew little about women and raising a family, but a lot about brothers and fathers and their relationships.
If JS didn't write the BofM, someone very much like him did. It certainly wasn't written by General Mormon or his son, Moroni.
| When I finally concluded that the LDS church was most definitely not a healthy belief system, I stopped going to church meetings and temple sessions, etc. Needless to say, my devout Mormon relatives thought there was something wrong with me that needed to be fixed.
Looking back now (in the spirit of Jacyn's thread about normality and Mormonism) I have gained some helpful perspective by realizing that when I left, most of my TBM relatives considered the following activity to be the highlight of each month and perhaps even of their entire lifetime, if their hyperbolic effusions concerning their temple experiences are to be believed:
On a monthly or more frequent basis they would slip into some long underwear that their Church sold to them, drive an hour to a building that they called the "temple" (and which reminded the locals of the big building in the Wizard of Oz) and then go into the temple and get dressed up in white polyester jumpsuits. (First they had to show the "temple" receptionist a card that was proof that some guy who called himself a "bishop" (when he was actually a medical supply salesman) was satisfied that they had behaved themselves well enough that they deserved to have access to the temple fun.)
The climax of the event was to then go into a room where, for the several hundredth time, they practiced giving each other odd handshakes, while chanting in unison about what the handshakes were called, after which they then made pantomime throat-slitting and disembowelment motions while chanting in unison that this is how they would be slaughtered if they told anybody else what the names of the handshakes were.
Then they would go up to a big gauzy polyester sheet hanging from the ceiling, stick their hands through holes in the sheet and embrace some mystery guy on the other side. They made a point of also making firm knee-to-knee contact with the mystery guy behind the sheet. They even had a special name for this embrace. They called it the "five points of fellowship."
After this, they would pass through the sheet and the mystery guy to go into a room that looked like a funky hotel lobby, where they would meditate for about 3-5 minutes about what they had just done on the other side of the sheet.
Later, they would tell other people that what they had done in the temple was too special and sacred to talk about.
And my Mormon relatives think I'm the one whose abnormal and nuts because I rejected all that fun.
| 1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ (aka Satan's brother), and in the Holy Ghost. God and Jesus each have a fleshy penis and multiple wives, none of whom are worth mentioning. God had sex with Mary, whereby she became pregnant with Jesus. Incest is usually bad, but not when it involves God. The Holy Ghost has a penis of spirit so he can dwell in your heart.
2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression. Women, however, will bear children with lots of pain and bleeding because Eve fucked up. Women also have to talk to God through their husbands. If they don't have husbands, sucks for them.
3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. This means you have to pay 10% of your income to help build up the Church and Kingdom of God (aka the new mall, etc.), and know the super secret names, signs, and tokens (i.e. secret handshakes), which you will learn when you agree to stop having any fun in your life, wear ugly underwear, and dress like a clown. God's very particular about that stuff. Screw the billions of people who wear normal underwear or just go commando.
4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (aka Joseph Smith), or in other words, No Critical Thinking; second, Guilt; third, More Guilt; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of Delusion, so you can spend the rest of your life second-guessing whether that was *your* thought or if it came from the spirit penis dwelling in your heart.
5. We believe that a man must be called of The Bishop (or whomever), by expediency, and by the laying on of hands by those who have penises, to preach the bullshit and administer the ordinances thereof.
6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, um, blowhards, assholes, know-it-alls, apologists, public relations people, propaganda creators, positive-spinners, damage control committee, resignation staffers, accountants, etc.
7. We believe in the gift of tongues (this does NOT mean oral sex, you deviants!), prophecy (even though we haven't had one for, like, years), revelation (same), visions (same), healing (same), interpretation of tongues (never happens), and so forth (WTF does that mean?).
8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. We reserve the right to change our minds about and thus alter any of the foregoing at any time for any reason.
9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. Of course, He hasn't revealed much ever since that Angel With the Flaming Sword fiasco. But as soon as we get another horny prophet, we anticipate the revelations will spill forth in abundance. God's like that.
10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory. Um, we'll keep you updated as soon as we get any evidence to support the foregoing.
11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God [while wearing ugly underwear] according to the dictates of our own conscience and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. <<>> Just kidding!!! Actually, if your conscience requires you to leave our organization, we will instruct your parents to disown you and tell them God requires it.
12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. Except for the ones we don't like.
13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul -- We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. [The foregoing is paid commercial programming and does not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of this station]. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we lust, er, seek after these things ... Sweet Louisa, Edible Helen Mar, mmmm Melissa, Bodacious Emily, E-la-la-la-liza, Nubile Sarah, etc.
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