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EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 7
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.
| Many problems, not easily controlled, are emerging.
The Internet began to decay all totalitarian regimes worldwide. The second wave is breaking down the barriers of fear between co-religionists in theological dictatorships. You can now learn about your faith.
- The Internet (freedom of information)
- Educational levels
- Liberation of Women
- An Awakening to Fraud and Abuse
- The Gay Rights Movement
- Future Court Rulings on the freedom of association (Polygamy)
Educational levels are rising. The numbers of people with degrees and critical learning is rising. Apply critical reasoning to the PGP and the origins of your faith and who the hell wants to give 10% of your earnings to a faith?
Women are no longer chattel. In higher education they comprise over 50% of the student body. Their relegation to second class status is over Brother Hinckley and there are fewer Molly Mormons to carry on. Expect that trend to grow.
Notice that economic fraud and abuse is now outed and on page one? You should have lived 40 years ago when that was in the closet. Sorry, you can no longer build a shopping mall without people asking how much it will cost. People will become harder to dupe. Oh Utah has a way to go but going door to door pushing the creed of the idiot will no longer do.
Our GLBT brothers and sisters have stood up. A new civil rights movement has begun and we are all going to welcome people as they are - not based on their orientation. Tolerance is the word of this century and intolerant religions will not last. The church will accommodate, late as they did with race.
As the Gay movement moves forward another problem will arise. I stand with those who advocate that you can live with who you damn well please. I think that polygamy between consenting adults is fine (and probably doctrinally more correct if you believe that crap). Suppose the Supreme Court allows polygamy under the freedom of association. Why oppose the Gay movement? Because they know that recognition of polygamy would follow and then the Quorum would have their garmies in an uproar. Section 132 of the penis code would have to go - or have to stay. I have always had sympathy with the polygamists I have known but I do know there are those who are oppressed within the practice.
I also know that heterosexual marriage is oppressive by an abusive husband but I am not saying we should abandon that either.
Look at the long term - they are up shit creek.
| The following three points might speak to some, but in my opinion aren't the reasons most of us oppose the mormon church.
No, I think the bottom line is this:
- Is it about mormons making poor choices? Mormons could leave if they used their good sense so they deserve what they get?
- Is it about being damaged and wanting revenge? Exmos have been hurt so they want to dish some of it back at their former cult?
- Is it about anger? Exmos have been deceived and are out for revenge?
The mormon church promotes racism, sexism, anti-gay sentiment, and an attitude of arrogant diviseness in this society. It damages lives by extorting money from those in need and by draining time and energy from people who need to devote more of themselves to their immediate family relationships.
The mormon church lies with its milk/meat rationalization to hook people in who would never join with full disclosure.
It indoctrinates families to mistrust and manipulate each other, to put cult needs above those of humanity and justice.
Some say, "But MY family does NONE of that. Mormons don't HAVE to be racist, sexist, anti-gay bigots." Well and good. That's correct.
But still, the bottom line is that the mormon church agenda includes what I said. Paying tithes to it and giving it free labor feeds those ends.
Members can't or won't see it. But we do. So we can tell the truth to those willing to listen. Pretending that the "liberal thinkers" in mormonism, those accepting of all races, genders, sexual orientations, the ones who don't think mormonism is the one and only true church and that everyone is equal, are to be commended. But frankly, they don't represent the reality of what mormonism is about.
I'll continue to oppose mormonism in the same way I've fought against other ills in society because being part of the problem doesn't help solve it.
| The LDS church teaches in absolutes. There is no tolerance for shades of gray, no allowance for interpretation:
And so on...
- "The LDS Church is the one true church"
- "When the prophet speaks the thinking has been done"
- "The BOM is most true book of any on earth"
That is always the case until something has to be defended. Then it all becomes relative:
We could all go on.
- "He wasn't speaking as a prophet, he was speaking as a man" (relative to truth and godly behavior).
- "People underestimate the capacity of things to disappear" (relative to BOM archeology).
- "It doesn't matter if the waters of the Red Sea parted...as long as they see it as divine intervention." (Relative to miraculous events)
| The Mormon Church engages in so much mental wankery. It's leaders, if they can be considered such, are nothing more than modern day snake oil salesmen, pious sounding con artists, who would be more at home selling Noni juice or some other latter day scam to the unsuspecting public.
Gordon B. Hinckley, charlatan extraordinaire, considers himself a media savvy operator whose only legacy, apart from denying the core doctrine of Mormondom, will be to build expensive temples throughout the world which stand as empty witnesses to his stupidity. Every 6 months he stands before his adoring minions and soothes and massages their ego by telling them how wonderful and marvelous the church is and how, by some cunning sleight of hand and creative accounting, the church continues to grow in Outer Mongolia.
God, according to the Mormons, is now a property developer who has diversified his interests from saving souls to investing in malls and Hawaiian condos. If Jesus saves then surely old horny Joe invests.
Ask yourself this question: could you imagine Jesus Christ being even remotely interested in buying shopping malls, radio stations and insurance companies? How many lives could be changed for the better in Africa with the money being spent on a shopping mall?
The Mormon church considers itself God's kingdom, the one true church, when truth be known it's nothing more than a small yapping dog, barking at the heels of the caravan of life, it's all tip and no iceberg. The only way that it can continue to expand its operations is by deceiving innocent people with outright lies and half truths.
The Mormon Church is in deep trouble and the old hacks know it. Hence the need for shopping malls and other property investments to make up for the expected massive shortfall in tithes that will soon hit the church. Membership is in decline, the birthrate is in decline as more women take up work outside the home, convert baptisms are stagnating or in decline as fewer missionaries return with fewer notches on their belts. About the only thing that is increasing rapidly is the number of people that want their names taken off the membership rolls (but of course you won't be hearing about that in church conference anytime soon).
In the area where I live the temple is closed 3 days of the week and the remaining days is by appointment only, at its best you would find no more than 30 cars in its car park (this in a city with 9 stakes). The church has recently taken some serious cost cutting measures; it has closed office space it was leasing in the city centre and in the outer suburbs. It has squashed more missionaries into fewer apartments. The meetinghouse we use to attend hasn't experienced any real convert growth in years (other than move-ins). Most of the meetinghouses in our city have no welcome signs or meeting times, they do have high fences and though to discourage the hoi polloi from attending.
So while Gordy B. keeps lulling the membership into a false sense of security, the harsh reality is that Mormonism is in deep crisis and decline. To use the words from an old American commercial: where's the beef?
| I have these kind of people in my own family and see them everywhere in the the church in North America. I call them the Mormon Elite. They are baby boomers who are mostly medical proffessionals but some are business people. They all have large homes and they all like to have a big concert grand Stienway in the living room. Some of these homes contain a home schooling classroom because all the children are home schooled or are taught by private tutors. These people seem to love oak and kind of a homey Utah look is always prevalent in the large kitchen and unformal dining area. If the children aren't home schooled they go to either charter schools or private schools. These families tend to be very musical with lots of violins, flutes, singing and if you really want to stand out, there's a harp next to the Stienway.
Dad always has a high calling in the church. These are the guys who are the bishop, stake president, mission presidents, and the lucky ones get to be a GA because this is what they all are shooting for. They all seem to have the same narcistic personality traits. These people are all about outdoing society and controling their environment. Their children tend to be naive, sheltered, and on a short leash. They all will most likely go to BYU Provo.
When I look back at my own family, my ancestors were poor immigrant farmers. The church was a community in Utah or Idaho. It wasn't about money but putting your shoulder to the wheel and working together as a community. A Stienway piano was something that was in a concert hall in a big city and nobody played a harp. Every home had a cheap upright piano of some kind usually. The church leaders were as poor as the rest of the ward.
Nowadays, you don't become a GA unless you have impressive business credentials and lot's of corporate experience. The church seems ever so obsessed by spending money on big projects that make people proud that they are part of something so wealthy and grand. Historical sites like Nauvoo and Martin's Cove are part of the family vacation agenda. At least for the people who still can afford family vacations.
What I see happening in the church is a new type of elitism. The church is evolving into a cultural/social club for rich proffessionals who have an ultra TBM mentality. They are so much the same it's scary! Their homes look the same, their children are the same, their wifes act the same. Apperances are everything.
I can't help but think that this will alienate the church members not in this club. Does COB even care? So they lose some low tithing payers, they want to keep the rich TBM's and for their loyalty to the socialist club, they will get high, visable leadership callings. To these types, being rich is important, but they would rather be the man on the stand than to have a free day of golf at the golf course. These people love the social recoginition they get from the church and they love to make their children like the Von Trap family in the Sound of Music.
These are the people who finance a good portion of the church and will run it. Gone are the days when the stake president is a Utah dirt farmer. Like Palm Beach, Florida where the nation's wealth throw lavish charity parties, the LDS social elite love to hear how the gosphel is spreading in places like Africa. They sit around at the ward potluck and pat themselves on the back that the church is the only true church and they are part of it and look at the new $2 billion shopping mall we're building! Isn't it wonderful!
| Imagine that you have been told that you have the chance to go to another planet. On that planet, scientists have discovered the fountain of youth. You'll live forever and you'll look like a fitness model. You'll have all the material wealth you can dream of. In fact you'll be in charge of your own kingdom. Against your better judgment, you buy your ticket. All you have to do is put your whole body under water once and buy some special space clothes to protect you from cosmic rays.
All you have to do is live on this space ship for the length of your natural life. You won't get to do the things that other humans do. Your sex life, thinking, and free time will be heavily regulated. On this ship, there will be a group of commanders that can basically tell you to do anything they want in the interest of the space ship - and you have to do it or you don't get to go to the special planet.
During the flight, you realize that the women on the space ship don't get the same privileges as the men. In fact, they are put to work 24/7. And there are minorities. They aren't allowed in to the better parts of the ship. All the white passengers get to do the fun jobs, while the darker people have to clean dishes and toilets.
All this time, you are taught to worship the captain, but never get to meet him. Some claim to have received messages from him, and they get emotional when they talk about it. There is a man who took the spaceship long ago, who was a pioneer in the space program, who claims that he actually met the captain. That is the man who set up the whole space program, with a manual that the captain gave to him.
All your friends are on the ship. Your whole family is on the ship. You are told that you can exit any time and go immediately back to earth, but after years of hearing horror stories of life on earth, you don't dare contemplate it. It's a sad, dangerous place.
Your quarters on the spaceship are determined by whether your ancestors took a similar ship to the faraway planet. In fact, the job you do on the spaceship is determined by your lineage. The more you can talk about your relatives, who took similar ships before you, the more people defer to you.
Now suppose after a whole life of giving time, energy, and money to be on this space ship, you find out that they were lying to you the whole time. 25 years after take-off, you realize that you never left the ground. In fact, though you've been receiving news reports from the world, most of them have been heavily censored. You really don't know what's going on in the world around you, and your ability to understand every day life has been severely hampered.
But you get off the space ship and have a look around. Life on earth is nothing like the people on the spaceship described. It's a nice place with nice people. You start to enjoy living on planet earth, and slowly the fear of living outside the spaceship goes away. You take off the cosmic ray shield and you don't die. You start to wonder why you ever stayed on that spaceship so long.
Then somebody representing the spaceship company rings your doorbell or calls you on the phone. "Hey, wanna come back on the space ship?" What you start hearing is, "Would you like to give more time, money, and energy to an organization that is racist, sexist, and does not give you anything that you cannot get on your own?"
Then they start in on your spouse and children, trying to get them on the space ship. Your spouse might even spend some of your money at the gift shop. You try to tell your neighbors what it was like on the spaceship, but they look at you as if you have a 3rd eye. You sometimes have contact with the people on the space ship. They think they're still traveling in space, and treat you as if you have a rare disease that got you jettisoned from the craft.
I stepped off the spaceship to Kolob. Nothing happened. All the fear of life on earth was unfounded.
| I never could come to terms with the "testimony" game.
As a kid, I was sure it was a very real thing, something strong, and life changing. Once you got it, you found happiness, truth, peace of mind, and a strong desire to sit through boring meetings after paying tithing. It was the ticket to the Celestial Kingdom, and multiple wives.
I never got a testimony. I could never move beyond hope, or faith. I found myself on a mission, bearing my testimony, but not being filled with a "sure knowledge" of the truth.
Then, a companion said "We call our belief 'knowledge.'" That solved my problem. He told the truth in simple terms. Mormons don't know anything. They are like all the other schlubs in the world. They, too, are reduced to hope and faith.
If the church is true, and people can "know" its true, why is a testimony so very hard to maintain? Why does one have to read the scriptures, pray, pay tithing, attend meetings, sustain the brethren, go to the temple, and spring for a big mall? If its real, if its true, and if you can "know," why all the time spent on the squirrel wheel?
According to Mormon belief, you can get a testimony, and then lose if by not doing all you are supposed to. That means the testimony cannot be real. If it were, you would never need to continue the endless dance, always being afraid that you, or those you love, would "stray from the truth."
Mormons spend a lot of time trying to make sure no-one "loses their testimony." But its silly. There is no real testimony to lose.
| "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." - Inigo Montoya in 'The Princess Bride'
I know a fine Mormon man who took a real leap of faith, and ended up dropping to the bottom of the canyon like Wiley E. Coyote.
I've only met the subject of this story a few times, but I'm close to a member of his family who grew up with him, who has heard all the parts of the story from this person on multiple occasions, and who is a first-hand witness to this person's life today. I'll call him Stan, which is not his real name.
Stan lives in the Western US, in an area with a large Mormon population. His family was hard-core about their beliefs. Stan's parents used to bury caches of water, food and other emergency supplies in remote locations outside of the metropolitan area in which they lived because they believed that Armageddon was imminent and that it would take the form of nuclear war, forcing them to travel on foot to a remote small town where they could take refuge with extended family. Stan's parents had estimated how much ground they could cover each day, and had distributed their emergency caches accordingly. They even took the Stan and his siblings out for the occasional weekend drill.
When Stan graduated from high school, he went to college for a semester or two, then put in his papers to serve a mission, something he had always known he would do. When he returned from his mission, he returned to college, got married, and (in typical Mormon fashion) immediately started reproducing.
Attending college while trying to support a young family was a challenge, but Stan valued education and was determined to finish a four-year degree. He was reasonably intelligent and knew enough about how the world works to realize that a degree had become a baseline qualification to compete in the working world.
The Lord had other plans.
One day, Stan was asked to meet with a member of the stake presidency. This inspired priesthood leader told Stan that The Lord wanted him to be the elders quorum president in his local ward. Stan felt inadequate and overwhelmed. He told the leader that turning down a calling would go against everything he believed, but that he just didn't see how he could do what they asked of him and still meet his other obligations.
That's when the member of the stake presidency felt the Spirit. He told Stan that The Lord wanted him to drop out of college so that he could fill the calling of elders quorum president. This inspired leader promised Stan that if he made that sacrifice and magnified his calling, he would be blessed for it.
Stan ended up becoming an electrician. He was good at it, but it was a hard trade in which to earn enough money to support a big family, as his soon became. Money was always tight. He ended up as the electrician on the maintenance staff at a large Mormon temple, very near where he grew up. Of course, he was required to have a temple recommend to keep his job, but that was never an issue for a guy like Stan.
After more than ten years on the job, Stan knew that temple like the back of his hand. All of his supervisors gave him good feedback, both officially and unofficially. His work ethic was outstanding, as was his knowledge of his job.
Finally, it happened. Stan's supervisor, the man in charge of maintenance for the entire temple, announced that he was going to retire. Stan thought he had an excellent chance of being promoted into that position. It wouldn't make him rich, but would pay much better than his current position, and ease a lot of his family's financial stress. Stan expressed interest in the position to the temple presidency, and informed them of his intention to apply.
The temple presidency explained to Stan that they had made a decision about their hiring guidelines. Despite the fact that it would have disqualified the outgoing maintenance supervisor, they had decided that, henceforth, one of the key qualifications for the job would be a four-year college degree.
With blessings like that, who needs to be cursed?
For the record, Stan is still a true believer.
- Chronic depression
- Wondering who you really are and what the real you is like
- Sensing that something is wrong with the LDS Church/Mormonism but not knowing what exactly
- Trying to escape from your doubts about the LDS Church/Mormonism, but not being able to
- Avoiding facts that do not agree with LDS Church doctrines and teachings and Mormon beliefs
- Undermining your rational mind and the negative psychological consequences (e.g., cognitive dissonance, feeling stupid)
- Fear of questioning what you have been taught by the LDS Church, Mormon parents, etc.
- Fear of thinking for yourself and living fully by your mind/judgments
- Fear of exploring life in order to learn by experience and develop your own set of values
- Fear of reading books, visiting websites, attending conferences, etc. that contain information (e.g., historical, scientific) that does not support LDS Church teachings and Mormon beliefs
- Fear of questioning Mormon priesthood authority
- Fear of God (the Mormon version) and "His" punishments
- Fear that if your obedience to church teachings is lacking in any way (i.e., is not "perfect"), you will be judged as "unworthy" after you die and spend "Eternity" separated from your Mormon family members, relatives, friends, etc.
- Fear that "Satan" and his "army" of "evil spirits" are trying very hard to cause you to commit "sins"
- Nightmares or negative metaphysical experiences involving "Satan", "evil" powers, etc.
- A chronic feeling that you are "spiritually" filthy/unclean/unrighteous
- Feeling driven to be "perfect" and guilty when you are not busy
- Scrupulosity (rigid, obsessive adherence to church rules and "God's commandments", as defined by Mormonism)
- Perfectionism, rigidity, fear of losing control
- Chronic anxiety and stress related to your "spiritual" performance (i.e., obedience to church teachings)
- Chronic guilt/having a sense of shame that does not go away
- Low self-esteem (self-esteem is the reputation that we acquire with ourselves over a period of time)
- Feeling disempowered (a common reality for LDS women, who must always answer to LDS men in Mormonism's patriarchal structure)
- As a LDS woman, feeling that you're capable of achieving so much more than Mormonism will allow
- Black-and-white, simplistic thinking
- Hyper-vigilance of your thoughts and behavior, and the resulting mental fatigue
- Magical thinking; believing that God will fix you and whatever's wrong in your life
- Harsh judgments of yourself/lack of self-acceptance
- Uncompromising, judgmental attitudes/religious ego
- Chronic judgments of other people as "less valiant", "unrighteous", etc.
- Psychological immaturity/feeling naïve, particularly in comparison to non-Mormons
- Victim-mindset/believing that you need a savior to rescue you/avoidance of responsibility
- Compulsive praying, scripture reading, fasting, church attendance, etc.
- Feeling that without Mormonism in your life, you wouldn't know who you'd be or what you'd do
- Always feeling burdened and drained/lack of joy in your life
- Obsessive ritualizing
- Basing your self-concept/identity on your achievements in the church, level of obedience/compliance, and your status in the LDS community
- Psychological and emotional enmeshment with your Mormon parents, siblings, spouse, etc.
- Addiction to approval-seeking in relation to LDS parents, grandparents, other relatives, church leaders, the Mormon community, God (the Mormon version), etc.
- Fear of Mormons' disapproval and the disapproval of God (the LDS version)
- Addiction to always being "nice" and "pleasing", but rarely real
- Fear of speaking your personal truth, including doubts about Mormonism and negative personal realities that will be negatively judged by Mormons if expressed (e.g., feeling that the temple endowment ceremony is not spiritual)
- Repressed anger/rage (resulting from being abused by Mormon parents, disempowered by LDS patriarchy, having the real you smothered over the years, etc.)
- Fear of confrontation, particularly with Mormon authority figures such as parents, church leaders, etc.
- Repression of your sexuality and the resulting secret, "spiritually unclean" sexual behaviors
- Sex addictions (e.g., addiction to pornography) resulting from Mormon religious shame
- Feeling/believing that you're "wicked" because your sexual feelings are homosexual
- Unrepressed grief/sadness because you, in your Mormon family/environment, were never allowed to be just you
- Feeling separate from non-Mormons, but sensing at a deeper level that we're all connected and no one is extra "special" or "chosen" by God
- Apocalyptic mindset and fear of living in "the Last Days"
| Why do people come unglued over a word? Is it really so bad that people are sent to therapy or rehab over a word? Are rehab's and therapists trolling for paying clients now?
Is Mormonism anything else but a bunch of people (like most of our society, it seems) that just needs a little Insensitivity training?
Were we insensitive when we were Mormons? I bet we were.
A relative called and said they found a letter that I had written to them years ago when I was a believing Mormon. I don't recall anything about the letter, but I can be sure it was a Mormon missile of "love" that was insensitive! I told her to throw it away: that was then, this is now, I have corrected and changed my thinking!(I hope she tossed it!)
It is a sure bet that every single one of us will be called names in our life, and we will probably engage in name calling at some point also.
The biggest news seems to be who was offended, was something offended, does someone need to go to rehab or take classes to learn to say things that cannot possibly ever, ever, ever, offend anyone with their feeling on their shirt sleeves.
When are we as adults going to grow up and take our power back so we are not so prickly, so quick to be offended, so quick to rain on someone for using a word that is not totally PC???
Frankly, after having lived through the use of a good dozen words that are not PC anymore, I wonder what the hoopla is really about?
As former Mormons are we able to really take the power away from offensive, rude, nasty people and refuse to be offended and not give them permission to bully us and get our feelings hurt?
I certainly hope so!
So someone wants to hurl nasty words, and attempts (wants) to be offensive -- so what? Actually, when someone is that angry, it is my observation they are probably talking about themselves and not about the object of their hate.
Mormonism taught us that it is OK to be offensive, but not OK to take offense. We all probably learned how that works.
Remember all those testimonies starting with: "if I have offended anyone I hope you will forgive me....(bla bla bla)...." Somewhere there is this imaginary Mormon world of all these offended people that must receive a blank apology.
I have learned to change my thinking, little by little and take my power back so others do not have the power to offend me (unless I give them permission).Generally, in a family it is the close members of the family that have the real power to offend us and those are more difficult to deal with.
Changing my thinking, taking my power back has given me a whole new wonderful world of peace and enjoyment! I can bypass the "offensive" silliness and see the humor of human beings muddling through this world of ours.
From childhood the adage runs in my mind: "Sticks and stones can hurt my bones but words can never hurt me."
To a young mind, with her feelings on her "shirtsleeve" as my mama used to say, this was a big order and I got in a lot of verbal scraps trying to live that one!
Try it, you'll like it!
That's my two cents. Your mileage may vary! :-)
| Most Mormons aren't deep thinkers. They are products of their cultural herritage and family. The church leaders are a limp noodle compared to the power wielded inside Mormon families. The pressure to conform is not wielded by the prophet, apostles, seventies, stake presidents, or bishops. Nope. All those guys are amazingly disposable, weak and easy to tell off. Who's hard to tell off is grandma, grandpa, your favorite cousin, mom, dad ect...
These family members are the glue of the church. To break up the church, means breaking up families and the stronger families are, the stronger the church is. Church families and communities aren't as strong as they once where. With a 53% temple divorce rate, many members are remarrying non-members and dropping the church and exposing their children to out of church culture.
All my nephews and my wifes nephews who come from divorced homes left the church and have not served mission to the dismay of usually one TBM parent. When they marry, the girl is not LDS.
I'm watching the next generation of my own family split into factions of non-LDS and LDS and the non-LDS are the bigger group. The LDS kids in my family seem to be liars and their parents are enablers.
Nobody cares what mom and dad think or what the ward thinks as much when we move so much anymore. Our lives are no longer revolving around the social status in Manti, Utah. We live in an age of individualism. Maybe in some ways, it's made our society sloppy and disfunctional but at least we have more freedom than being under the thumb of church dogma and leaders doing the thinking for us.
I just see the LDS church chugging on it's program that worked well in the past in a world that has changed. Gordo is selling buggy whips in the internet age.
| This past Saturday, I took my two children and an out-of-town friend to visit Fort Point in San Francisco. Fort Point is an old Army fort, built in the 1850's to guard the entrance to the bay. It sits directly under the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge, which was specifically engineered so as to preserve the fort, and is maintained today by the National Park Service. Despite the cold, wind and fog, we climbed the stairs to the top of the fort, from which there is a great view of the bridge and the bay. As I was looking off toward Alcatraz Island, my young son said, "Dad, look! There's a flare in the water."
I looked, and sure enough, there was a flare floating on the water and burning brightly. It was under the east side of the bridge, just past the first tower. I had a pretty good idea, albeit an unsettling one, about why the flare was there. After asking a Park Ranger and a police officer with the Bridge Patrol (both while my children were out of earshot), my fears were confirmed. The flare had been dropped from the walkway on the bridge above by police officers to mark the spot where a jumper had gone over the edge. They do that to show the Coast Guard and police boats where to look for the body. As happens all too often at the famous landmark, someone had just ended his or her life there. I'm glad we didn't go to the top of the fort a few minutes earlier when we might have seen it happen.
A couple of weeks ago, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman signed a bill into law that could allow local school districts to ban gay-straight alliances. The new law has been a pet project of State Senator Chris Buttars for years.
Senator Buttars has criticized such clubs, claiming that they "indoctrinate" students to "a homosexual lifestyle." It would seem that Utah is one of those places where people - even those in responsible positions - can still get away with believing the ignorant and asinine notion that sexual orientation is like a big game of Red Rover.
Shame on every lawmaker who supported this bill. Shame on the voters who put them there and urged them to support this kind of codified hate and discrimination. And shame on the institutions that promote the kind of ignorance that creates support for measures like this one, especially when those institutions claim that what they teach follows some kind of divine mandate and is therefore immune to established medical fact, widely accepted psychology and the rational scrutiny of the people.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 24. That's an alarming enough statistic by itself, but young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered are TWO to THREE TIMES more likely to take their own lives.
God forbid - literally, it would seem - that any of these kids have one small bit of social space at school where they can feel accepted and safe.
Jon Huntsman should take a lesson from another governor from his own party. Nearly fourteen years before Huntsman signed into law a giant step backward for Utah, then Massachusetts Governor William Weld said the following in June of 1993:
"This issue is not about a 'different' way of life; it is about life itself. I know that every teacher and every parent in this Commonwealth fundamentally agrees that no young person -- gay or straight -- should be driven to take her or his life because of isolation and abuse. This is a tragedy we must all work together to prevent. We can take the first step toward ending gay youth suicide by creating an atmosphere of dignity and respect for these young people in our schools."
Not in Utah.
Thus spake Mujun.
| Religious organizations are a great illustration of the difference between pragmatism and rationalism. In the interest of self-preservation, they will grudgingly embrace the former but mostly reject the latter. Pragmatism dictates that religious organizations adapt, albeit slowly, to advances in knowledge and corresponding changes in society so that their claims of relevance stay narrowly within the range of credulity of the people who subscribe to their creeds. Pure rationalism, on the other hand, dictates that there is no basis for magical thinking or for a belief in supernatural deities, which are at the core of a religious organization’s excuse for existing. The definition of pragmatism changes according to the party exercising it, while rationalism is consistent.
In modern society, churches are always wrestling with the tension between these two. We have seen examples in recent years of churches that made concessions to pragmatism, especially in regard to their own histories. The Seventh-Day Adventists acknowledged that many of Ellen White’s writings were plagiarized. The Southern Baptist Convention renounced its racist roots and apologized for its past defense of slavery. Even the Catholic Church finally admitted that Galileo was right and they were wrong about the earth revolving around the sun. It took them a number of centuries, but they admitted it.
The Mormon Church is carrying a lot of similar baggage. To many people, especially some of the more progressive believers, it seems like the pragmatic thing to do would be to jettison some of their more blatantly bogus claims surrounding their historical underpinnings. Instead of dancing around polygamy, why not simply repudiate it? Why not say that Brigham Young was indeed a racist and that he was wrong?
Don’t hold your breath.
I remember Dallin Oaks giving a conference talk several years ago, the main thrust of which was a strenuous defense of the character of Martin Harris, who happens to be his ancestor. As long as Dallin is around and in a position of power, nobody inside the church is going to malign dear old Martin (although South Park did a brilliant job of it from the outside).
How many times has M. Russell Ballard referred to the fact that he is a direct descendant of Hyrum Smith and that Joseph Smith was his great-great-uncle? You can be sure that the church isn’t going to say that its founder was a con artist and a sexual predator if M has anything to say about it.
I guess that’s one thing the Catholics have going for them. None of their leaders have any descendants, or at least they’re not supposed to have any.
And now we even have one of Gordon Hinckley’s son’s in the ranks of general authorities. So, if you were hoping that in about twenty years the church might say that they were wrong about that whole earring thing, forget it.
| “In all this world there is no substitute for personal integrity. It includes honor. It includes performance. It includes keeping one’s word. It includes doing what is right regardless of the circumstances” (Hinckley, Gordon, B., Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley , 270).
Mormons especially laud laurels (no pun intended) on LDS converts who sacrifice family, culture or employment for the sake of becoming Mormon and being a person of integrity.
From the LDS Gospel Principle’s manual:
“The Lord’s people have always sacrificed greatly and in many different ways. Some have suffered hardship and ridicule for the gospel. Some new converts to the Church have been cut off from their families. Lifetime friends have turned away. Some members have lost their jobs; some have lost their lives.”
(Chapter 26: Sacrifice,” Gospel Principles, 171)
One of my personal favorites is from a story which must still haunt Hinckley. He related it as an apostle in a 1973 general conference address:
“Mine has been the opportunity to meet many wonderful men and women in various parts of the world. A few of them have left an indelible impression upon me. One such was a naval officer from Asia, a brilliant young man who had been brought to the United States for advanced training. Some of his associates in the United States Navy, whose behavior had attracted him, shared with him at his request their religious beliefs. He was not a Christian, but he was interested. They told him of the Savior of the world, of Jesus born in Bethlehem, who gave his life for all mankind. They told him of the appearance of God, the Eternal Father, and the resurrected Lord to the boy Joseph Smith. They spoke of modern prophets. They taught him the gospel of the Master. The Spirit touched his heart, and he was baptized.
He was introduced to me just before he was to return to his native land. We spoke of these things, and then I said, “Your people are not Christians. You come from a land where Christians have had a difficult time. What will happen when you return home a Christian and, more particularly, a Mormon Christian?”
His face clouded, and he replied, “My family will be disappointed. I suppose they will cast me out. They will regard me as dead.
As for my future and my career, I assume that all opportunity will be foreclosed against me.”
I asked, “Are you willing to pay so great a price for the gospel?”
His dark eyes, moistened by tears, shone from his handsome brown face as he answered, “It’s true, isn’t it?”
Ashamed at having asked the question, I responded, “Yes, it’s true.”
To which he replied, “Then what else matters?”
These are the questions I should like to leave with you this morning: “It’s true, isn’t it? Then what else matters?”
(Hinckley, Gordon B., The True Strength of the Church,” Ensign, Jul 1973, 48)
Then what else matters?
Many here have made equal sacrifices as those persons honored by the LDS church for becoming Mormons.
One would expect that Mormons would admire people of integrity, but not so for the LDS apostate.
My LDS family and friends choose to believe that we are “just inactive” or that we are going through mid-life crisis. They prefer to see us a now weak Mormons instead of people of integrity.
Although there are many hypocritical positions in the LDS Church and practiced by its members, the disparaging treatment of two identical sets of people, making the same sacrifices for integrity is the greatest act of hypocrisy that exists in Mormonism.
| Many here find themselves in the position of not believing in the claims of Mormonism, yet still attending LDS religious services routinely. I have heard two different descriptions of such people – New Order Mormons (NOMs) and Cafeteria Mormons. I am not quite sure of the difference.
In my initial discovery of those issues which caused serious reconsideration of Joseph Smith, Smith’s teachings, and LDS Church doctrines (or policies) I went through some initial stages which might be categorized as being a NOM or Cafeteria Mormon.
First, I desperately wanted to be able to believe something, to make it easier for me and my immediate family to make as little change as possible. So I grasped onto the hope that I could be a good Christian within Mormonism. So, for almost a year, I focused on Christian teachings within Mormonism. As a member of the bishopric, I successfully guided to bishop in only assigning sacrament talks from the New Testament for almost a year. This approach let me focus on a perceived spirituality at church. However, it was not to last for several reasons. First, I could not endure the lessons. Although, the bishopric had great control over sacrament meeting topics, we had no control over lessons during the second and third hours. These lessons were impossible, in many instances, to bear. The misrepresentations made in the lesson material were huge. Second, I could not continue to give temple recommend interviews in good faith. Third, I no longer believed in restored priesthood authority and therefore I ceased to be able to participate in a system which was both elitist and sexist. Fourth, in my attempt to become a better Christian, I actually started studying Christianity and religion. My belief in both evaporated within a year of my discovery of Mormonism’s ugly reality.
Second, I tried to be a secularist Mormon – meaning I didn’t believe, pretend to believe, yet I could find ways to serve my fellow man within the confines of Mormonism. However, little that occurs in the LDS Church is truly service oriented. Most of the “callings” are about keeping the ship afloat, not actually helping people. And besides, the mental anguish I had to endure in hearing about Joseph Smith and Church History during gospel doctrine and priesthood was not worth the price of finding a few scraps of real service available there.
So, it didn’t take long for me to stop considering myself a NOM.
But, I believe there are more important reasons for not being a NOM or Cafeteria Mormon. They are my children and others I care about.
I do not want my children growing up believing themselves to be God’s chosen ones, or looking at others as in need of salvation. I do not want my children to go to the temple, serve missions or making other huge commitments to the LDS Church. Some here might argue that you can teach children the truth at home to ensure that your children know. However, they will be having lessons during which they will be taught a different truth. They will go to youth conferences and LDS Scout camps at which they will be under great pressure to conform. They will have seminary where they will be taught lies. And during the which, I would have been tacitly [edited] endorsing their teachers and messages by my continued attendance and subjecting my children to those activities.
One day, had I tried to be a NOM, I would have ended up financing a church mission for my son, only for him to return and judge me as less than faithful. I would have had to wait outside of a temple while my children were married. I would have had to watch my grandchildren be blessed. I would have hated myself for not having had the courage to have taken my children from that path.
My children now know that my wife and I have problems with Mormonism. They know we have lost friends. They understand that we are alienated from most extended family. But more importantly, they know that the LDS Church is not the place for them to be nurtured or taught.
And because of that, I can sleep at night. My children and future grandchildren are largely free of the future affects of Mormonism because we decided not to be NOMs, but apostates – a label I wear with great dignity.
Also, I didn’t want to continue to attend LDS Church and by doing so let others believe that I endorse the church. The LDS Church is wrong. The great amount of its efforts is not in improving humanity but ensuring it’ own survival. I did not want my church friends and non-LDS friends think or believe that I sanctioned the LDS Church’s efforts by my continued association and attendance.
I quickly understood that I had no power to change the LDS Church within. Those who think that are either naïve or in denial. The LDS Church has never proven to be an institution which looks to its members for direction or change. When it has been forced to change, it has only done so as a result of outside pressure. For example, when the LDS Church gave up polygamy, it was not because polygamy was damaging children, or because women were unhappy in such arrangements, or that many questioned the divinity of the practice; the abandonment was to ensure statehood and avoid government confiscation of church property. When the LDS Church permitted black men to hold the priesthood, it was not as a result of the many unhappy LDS members who considered the policy racist, it was because the outside world viewed and treated the LDS Church as a racist institution (and perhaps, the LDS Church believed that tithing may have become taxable).
So, in the end, I found greater peace and self-respect in leaving the LDS Church all together.
| Several threads have made me consider a very unlikely idea, but one that is interesting nevertheless. One might assume that the LDS Church is operating in order to fade from existence.
Future LDS Church membership comes from either: (1) either children of existing members; or (2) converts and children of converts. Despite the need the LDS Church has in keeping its youth and retaining converts, it continues to institute programs that are driving these two sources of growth away.
I. Children of existing members
I grew up in a very active LDS home. I was a teenager in the 1980’s. Church attendance could be fun. Primary, when I was a child in the 1970’s, was held on Wednesday and included lots of fun activities. I was a CTR, Targeteer and Blazer. I memorized the Articles of Faith so I could glue the emblem to my Blazer banner. I was excited to get up in front of the ward when I turned twelve to repeat an Article of Faith.
As a teenager we had fun dances, youth conferences and other enjoyable activities. The youth conferences were held on the campus of a university and last several days. Each year the site of the conference shifted to a different campus. We were allowed to go on youth trips and Boy Scout trips far from home. In my case, we went to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, canoeing in Ontario, Canada and hiking in Colorado.
Road shows were another fun way to interact. We had fun working on scripts, sets and performances. Sports was yet another worthwhile activity. Our stake and area had very competitive basketball tournaments each year.
The lessons were alright at church. All the activities kept us involved and was the basis of making lasting friendships. In my Priest Quorum all of us, except one, went on missions and on to college and temple marriages.
It is no secret that the LDS Church today is losing youth at a very rapid rate. Most stakes are trying to compel high school graduates to attend Institute to ensure adulthood attendance. Although student wards are being created in many stakes, attendance is not good in most. The youth are not staying in the LDS Church.
Why? One major reason is they aren’t having enjoyable experiences. No more annual youth conferences. In this area, the youth go to the stake center for a couple of days and receive hours of spiritual training. The activities are lame.
No more basketball tournaments are being held. Instead, the stake may have an annaul, half hearted sports day. There are no practices, no leagues, and no excitement. There are no more road shows. In this area, the youth aren’t allowed to travel out of state on trips.
Instead, the LDS Church force feeds LDS dogma into the youth until they gag on it. It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the youth programs of the LDS Church today are actually driving away the church’s future members and leaders. But yet it continues unabated.
The number of LDS converts isn’t growing at same pace it once was. In some countries, the pace of growth is less than the population growth and in others there are actually negative growth rates.
Convert retention rates are so poor that LDS leaders have addressed this topic continually for at least the last eight years. But the retention rates aren’t improving. Other churches aren’t suffering from the same lack of growth or retention problems. As I understand the Seventh-Day Adventists are growing at a faster rate than the LDS Church and are retaining a very high percentage of their converts. One major difference is that the Adventists have stricter admittance requirements for their potential members. Once a person joins they have already demonstrated a willingness to be an active member.
Despite interesting comparisons, surely available to LDS leadership, the LDS Church continues to demand very little from its converts - maybe a couple of attendances at church, verbal commitment to keep poorly explained commandments, and six missionary lessons. It would appear that most being baptized don’t really understand the expectations of being active LDS members. The LDS leadership could easily address retention problems by increasing the requirements for baptism. They haven’t. They continue to follow a course of action that ensures that converts will leave.
The LDS Church is operating in a manner which is causing it to lose future members. It has the ability to correct these problems, but has failed to do so. Maybe, and admittedly unlikely, LDS leadership, lacking the courage to honestly tell members the truth of their non-prophetic abilities, and to correct historical fallacies, are taking a longer course to deplete LDS membership.
I know I am probably wrong, but some of the LDS Church’s growth problems seem to have such obvious corrections. It makes one wonder why the LDS Church leadership continues to abandon proven methods of retaining youth and converts.
| Whenever I watch The Office, it always strikes me that Dwight would be a perfect Mormon.
He takes himself WAY too seriously. Everything with him is at 100% intensity. (Mormons think everything has "eternal consequenses" and is of critical importance.)
He blatantly sucks up to those he perceives to be in authority over him.
He believes himself to be absolutely correct in everything he does. (Priesthood "authority" structures, and the legendary "power of discernment" come to mind.)
He makes knee-jerk judgements about people and situations with far too little data from which to draw accurate conclusions. ("Apostates just want to sin. They couldn't possibly really not believe.")
He is socially retarded.
Sadly, Dwight reminds me a little bit of my father. Even more sadly, he reminds me of myself before I was able to let go of Mormonism.
| Was it Steve Benson who posted the note?
“Q. How many Mormons does it take to change a light bulb?
“A. None. If it’s a doctrinal light bulb, it will change itself”
Well, it’s funny how often the doctrinal light bulbs go out, and get replaced with something else. Or sometimes, the light fitting is ripped out, patched up, and there’s the pretence that there was never a bulb there in the first place.
How about this fine example:
Then - 1831 - Joseph Smith
“The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth.”
[source: Doctrine and Covenants 65:2]
Then - 1983 - M. Russell Ballard
“In 1978 we had 950 stakes of the Church. Five and a half years later, we have 1,450 stakes. The church is moving forward. It is growing, meeting its ongoing charge and commission from the Lord to fill the whole earth.”
[source: “Let Us Think Straight”, 1983, http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader... ]
Funny, the ill-fated doctrine above was good for 176 years – which by Mormon standards is no small feat - but alas, it had to go the way of all the Mormon weird stuff. It was inevitable. It simply had to be flushed away.
And who was the lucky prophet, seer and revelator, given the privilege of ditching this daft doctrine?
Yes, it was the mighty Mormon prophet, seer and revelator, and special witness of the Mormon Jesus, the annointed M. Russell Ballard.
Now - 2007 - M. Russell Ballard
“The Lord has never given us a mandate to be the biggest Church – in fact, He has said our numbers will be comparatively few – but He has asked that we commit ourselves to living and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
[source: http://www.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/v/inde... ]
The Mormon prophets have never been the brightest, have they? Only when reality is becoming clear to the membership at large, do they dither, and then with huge reluctance, they spin a u-turn so fast it leaves them dizzy.
I wonder if they’ll ever do a u-turn on their favourite fairly tale history claims.
Will they ever own up to lying? To promoting the biggest religious fraud and deceit in America’s history?
| The church managed to lie, cover-up, and deceive for a long time. No getting around it. They did a good job. They changed history, hid history, ditched sources, and put a spin on events that was, by and large, pretty impressive. Most members did not have a clue as to the real truth of the Mormon church--that it was a brutal, lying, murdering cult.
When I was young, the road to Mountain Meadows was unfit for a herd of mountain goats to walk on. The state and the church kept it that way. Going there was a huge risk, with the offending person in serious danger of losing their car in the river.
Going to the office of the "Church Historian" was no different. The church learned that all things must be hidden, and the official line must be told. They put out a spin that everyone who wrote about the church, or said anything negative about the church, was a "liar."
My father bought into that spin. I recall him calling a long list of people "liars." I used to marvel how so many people gathered to "lie" about Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and all the rest. Surely, it was strange that so many would lie. The church seemed to have legions of liars lined up against them. Everyone was a "liar." It was incredible.
And this went on for years. Nibley fine-tuned it, and the brethren hid as much as they could. The early Mormons did nothing wrong. They were angels--pure sweetness, with hundreds "lying" about them. People were determined to kill them, and took numbers to await their shot at "the Saints."
Funny how that all seems to be ending now. The church can't control information, and its out of control. People have figured it out.
And people are looking for some real history, and real answers. What a change the internet has made. The blinders have come off.
Its a whole new world out there. The free flow of information is hard on all totalitarian organizations. Its impossible to stop the leaks. So the brethren rail against "internet pornography," but they are really railing against "internet information."
| The concept that one needs to be "sealed" in order to reach the highest degree of heaven, become like god, and to be able to enjoy being with your loved ones throughout all eternity is the great extortion of Mormonism. Mormonism uses the fear of loss of family as a spiritual gun to get folks to pay and obey their way through life.
If one considers the doctrine, the absurdity of it all comes shining through. If there is a god, why would deity require only a selective process in order to be with family and loved ones in the great beyond? This is a tyrannical, unloving deity who requires his children to be extorted by taking away loved ones for eternity if they don't do things just the way he wants them, baker hats and all? Absurd.
As a former wearer of the baker hat, I now see how ludicrous the whole notion is, but Mormon Inc. will continue to play this game of tyrannical fear to keep the folks and their money flowing through the chapel doors each Sunday. -Sic semper tyrannus!
| Yep, the lds church has a problem....
How do you keep your 'uniqueness' while passing yourself off as "just another Chirstian Church"?
Since 1830, the lds church has claimed that it is the "one True Church". The "One True Church" claim being that the lds church claims it is the only organization on the face of the earth that has the whole truth, the proper authority to act/administer, the 'real', uncorrupted scriptures, and the only authentic prophets. The lds church professes the existence of a past 'Great Apostacy'...a complete removal of God's authority on the earth [I guess the Three Nephites were excommunicated]...that befell mankind, and thus necessitated a "Restoration"...or else all was lost.
From its inception, the lds church has used these arguments to create a unique identity to attract converts....and to assure its extant membership of their place in the "One True Church".
This strive for uniqueness has led to varying levels of arrogance ["we know better/more than you do..."] in the membership. From narcisistic ego-aholics to pious exhibitionists, and from the humble "self-flagellating" to the ward professional self-abasement specialist, this arrogance has led historically to a "we versus they" mentality. Thus, the use of such phrases as "Gentiles" and "great and abominable church" when speaking of non-members and their churches was historically commonplace in lds meetinghouses.
This uniqueness, or corporate branding, is used at the MTC to ready the unprepared 19 year olds in the corporation's quest to 'sell the product' around the globe.
Now enter "mainstreaming". One would think that the lds church's goals [since they are not stated] of mainstreaming would be to: 1) increase the number of members (to show contuned growth/health and increase the tithing pool), 2) to limit "persecution" [after all "we're just abother Chirstian church"], 3)to make the current membership feel like they are part of a 'non-kooky', 'non-bizarre' religion, and 4) to divert the focus of the apparatus of the information age [news, internet, tv] from the definitely non-mainstream lds past.
To rely on the slogan of "Don't look at what our organization used to do, look at what it does now!" is to contradict the whole "Restored One True Church" theme. If it only matters what the organization does now, I would submit that there are hundreds of organizations (most WITHOUT bizarre pasts) that accomplish what the current lds church claims to achieve [make you a better person, love your family, serve your fellow man, etc].
The cognitive dissonance paradigm intentionally (at least one would think so) established by lds, inc places a large load of stress on its members and its missionary force. The mental gymnastics required to carry these two 'anvils' around in a knapsack might explain the rise in MSS--Morridor Stress Syndrome.
The PBS documentary, if nothing else, ought to demonstrate to the brethren that Mormon history and doctrine, when presented using information age tools, leaves the average 'mainstream' American befuddled. While it might steel the resolve of some of the more ardent members via the persecution complex, to the rest of America, it looks like an odd sideshow exhibit in the American religious experience.
If the current lds church were to fully embrace its own past, it would look/feel/taste/smell/sound a lot like the fudamentalists lds kooks--not a great 'sell' in either Red or Blue states.
Yep, the lds church has a problem....I'm grabbin' a cold one and a bag of popcorn, this ought to be real interesting.
| The Mormon church in which I was raised was an absolutist environment. I learned there were foundational moral principles which were unchangeable. It was always wrong to lie. It was always wrong to steal. It was always wrong to disobey the Prophet. We were to "do what is right, let the consequence follow" and of course, what was always right was to follow the Prophet, who would never lead us astray.
I never conceived the Prophet would ask me to lie or break any of the foundational moral truths I held so dear. I never thought a Prophet of God would openly or secretly trample those truths underfoot and then be excused by the church. But, as has happened many times in my life, I found out I was wrong. I had trusted too much. The moral absolutism that was taught and applied to me as a member wasn't applied to the Prophets of Mormonism. The shock I felt when I learned they were actually held to a lower moral standard than the average member is what initially started my exit from the belief system in which I was born and believed in so strongly.
Harsh absolutism is applied to the average member of the Mormon church, but when it comes to prophets, present and past, they aren't held to the same exacting standard. No. We are to apply relativism to them. Joseph Smith had legitimate reasons to lie but the average member doesn't? Hinckley can dissemble on national television and be immediately excused by the vast majority of Mormons but the rest of us are supposed to tell the truth and do what is right and accept whatever consequences follow?
My trouble is that I'm consistent. I couldn't switch off that absolutism in my mind at will and when I applied the fundamental moral truths I held so dear to the leaders of the Mormon church they were tremendous disappointments. They were liars. And cheats. And I couldn't excuse them. No one should. So I did what I was taught to do from my youth. I did what was right and let the consequences follow; I left the church because of the honesty it instilled in me as a young girl.
Mormonism wants to have it both ways - they want different standards applied to congregants and leaders. People trained well as black and white thinkers cannot abide such hypocrisy.
I'm working to shed some of the black and white thinking I had as a Mormon and I see a lot more gray than I used to, though I still believe there exist fundamental truths. One of those truths is that it's wrong to mislead innocent people for personal or corporate gain and that is exactly what Mormonism does. And it should be held accountable.
"The ink is black, the page is white, Together we learn to read and write" - Three Dog Night
For the most part, I like the moral code taught by Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. I don't know to what degree, if any, the story is historically accurate, but there's some worthy stuff in there even if it's fiction. Once Paul takes over the narrative, I start having a lot more problems with it, but I like all of the teachings about sharing what you have, forgiving people and not judging.
There are some parts of the Four Gospels, however, where Jesus, like so many of those who claim to follow him, seems to be talking out of his ass. In Matthew 25, when Jesus used the whole metaphor about the sheep and the goats, he laid the groundwork for more than two thousand years of judging and pigeonholing of others by simpleminded followers. Everything is a dichotomy. There are always two kinds of people in this world. Cain and Abel. You're either with us or you're against us.
Mormonism is hardly unique in promoting this mentality, but I think it's fair to say that it excels at it. The Book of Mormon has its own discourse about it in 2 Nephi 2. Life is defined as a dichotomy with "opposition in all things." The temple ceremony includes a part in which Satan tells Adam and Eve that they have to partake of the forbidden fruit, more than any other reason, so that they can understand the idea of opposites, or dichotomies. In both cases, all dichotomies are clearly framed as the good side and the bad side. Virtue is good. Vice is bad. Pleasure is good. Pain is bad. Light is good. Darkness is bad.
Moral relativist and atheist that I am, I still would never go so far as to claim that there is no such thing as good and bad. I don't see a lot of absolutes out there, but I really do believe that morality can and does exist on its own and that we all have many opportunities every day to choose the better part. At the same time, it's a gross oversimplification to frame all such decisions as between right and wrong. Sometimes, it's between one good and another. Other times, it's a matter of finding the lesser of two evils. Most often, it's a complicated choice between two options, each of which includes a number of factors all across the continuum.
Last week, I took a Myers-Briggs test as part of a team-building exercise. While I understand the value of that kind of profiling, I'm still averse to the idea of being pigeonholed into one personality type. At least the Myers-Briggs gives you sixteen possibilities, and doesn't call any of them bad. The Mormon/Christian dichotomy gives you only two.
The irony is that there is really nothing wrong with goats. I can think of a lot of reasons to like goats more than sheep. Like so many religious analogies, it all falls apart so quickly when you apply the slightest amount of reason.
Bitterness, for example, gets a bum rap. In the dichotomy mentality, bitterness is on the bad side. I still have an aversion to bitterness, no doubt the product of both nature and nurture. Just the same, I've learned to appreciate it. As someone who didn't drink coffee until age 40, I didn't see any reason to acquire a taste for it only when accompanied by cream and sugar. I started drinking my coffee black, and I've come to really enjoy it. Black coffee is great, and a certain amount of bitterness is a key part of what makes it so. The same goes for beer. I certainly haven't lost my taste for things that are sweet. Rather, I've gained more appreciation for the wholeness of tastes.
In the Zen concept of Yin and Yang, there is no good guy and bad guy. In a sense, the concept of Yin and Yang is a dichotomy, but it embraces the whole. While I'm definitely not a Trekkie geek, another example comes from an old Star Trek episode I watched as a rerun when I was eight. Through some cosmic accident, Captain Kirk gets split into two persons. One represents all of his nice, passive and friendly traits. The other represents his aggressive and angry traits. While you're tempted to think that the whole issue can be resolved by killing the mean, angry, aggressive Captain Kirk, you realize by the end of the episode that half a man cannot live, and that the two Captain Kirks must be combined again.
Recovery is about getting in touch with your inner goat while retaining everything you like about your inner sheep.
| My observations about the church.
When I was a boy in Idaho, I remember my father taking me to a field, where I worked for a day with a lot of other members to clear the land for a new church. The church paid for the church by asking members to donate money, which I am sure was a hardship. THE POINT: Everything was local. The money raised in tithing stayed local, and the church was the center of activity.
1. Tithing goes to Salt Lake City. Ward budgets are miserly. In our scouting activities, we cannot fundraise. It is forbidden. We are also told we should not spend much money, because the ward budget is limited. We are told to have simple activities, and that this will be easier, since we have to have a "priesthood purpose for everything." In other words, take the kids to church, babysit them by teaching them about the MORG, and pretty much forget the adventure of scouting because that costs money that we cannot raise, and do not have. Members in larger richer areas (like Utah), must be breaking the rules and paying for stuff themselves. Our members are poor (we live in a rural area), and I live outside Utah.
2. We were recently told in an announcement by our Stake Presidency the following: They are increasingly concerned about the abuse done to the church by those using the church for non approved church activities (the church is in good condition by the way). We were told that members should stop using the church for entertainment, even basketball. We were also told to stop the "Clutter in the Lord's House". (They always make their pronouncements personal to God, to make members fear). What they were upset about was relief society and scouting announcements on poster-boards being placed outside the doors of the Chapel to announce activities prior to sacrament meeting. They designated one area of our church for all announcements, and members were told to go to the board each week to look for activities. MICROMANAGEMENT TO THE POINT OF BEING ABSURD.
3. The fear of lawsuits to save money is also absurd. Yesterday the missionaries visited my house. I read their new white handbook. Having served a mission in the 90's.. the old handbook was full of rules. The new one is crazy. It gives such micromanaging detail as the color of shoes (only black, brown, and cordovan, are to be worn). Dresses on sisters should be "not too tight, or too loose." Missionaries are now instructed to stand behind the car whenever backing out of a parking space. The Elders last night scoffed at this saying they feel pretty silly when backing out of a space at Walmart. They said they were instructed on how to waive out the driver, and it looks dumb. On another issue, when I drove a church truck to distribute food from the church cannery recently, inside the truck they had a laminated instruction card that said if I was ever in a wreck, never admit fault, even if I was at fault. It said we should try to remain as silent as possible. So much for honesty. I swear to God (literally) it isall about the bottom line for these guys.
4. In the past few years the churches have stopped having custodial staff clean the buildings as often, and will have members do it on saturday. Anyway, in the past few months an edict came down from the Stake Presidency informing us that the crews that come by and do the "intense cleaning," periodically, will be doing it less often now. So, all the young men in our ward are insructed to do a cleaning of the church right after church on Sunday, so that the member crew coming the next weekend can work more closely on scrubbing floors, windows, doors, and do not have to pay attention to general clutter. A way to cut the budget for custodians. Again, shifting it to the members.
5. No cooking in the church. What a stupid rule. We have a kitchen, a stove and a microwave. We were told in a recent activity for the youth that we were not to cook, but could maybe warm something in the oven with the Bishops permission. I got the Bishops permission to "warm", then proceeded to cook up a storm for my joint activity. When the Bishop saw it, he gave me a funny look. I told him I was involved in "intense warming of food", he smiled and didn't say anything.
All these rules are making the church Sterile.
| "Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin" is a COP-OUT, used by so-called "Christians" like Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Gordon Hinckley and their followers to continue playing the role of self-appointed judge and jury of the behavior of others. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in psychological terms I think that is called reaction formation, and its continued reiteration is self-delusional at least and projects as painfully stupid when voiced in public.
It is also a gross misinterpretation of Biblical principles which has been promulgated by a few half-educated so-called "ministers" of the so-called Religious Right. It is only one of many pseudo-moral aphorisms used by them to keep themselves popular in the public eye, to provide scapegoats for all the supposed woes of Middle-America, and to continue bilking millions of dollars out of those unfortunates who seem to regularly allow themselves to get sucker-punched by every huckster that comes 'round the bend.
The absence of logic in the couplet (assuming any principle of logic could be applied to it) and the truths inherent in my description of America's Christian leadership should be self-evident to anybody who recognizes the extent of scholarship that exists on both sides of the Atlantic, but somehow there are still those who believe that they are capable of sentient dialogue simply because they possess the means to communicate: i.e.: a computer keyboard, a mouth, etc. Those means are merely the vehicle, darlin', not the content.
Concerning the question of Gay and Lesbian Americans vs. the so-called Religious Right, there is a distinct overabundance of driverless vehicles tooling down the road in representation of the Religious Right.
Any individual can either use their developed intellect to collate and understand what has already been discovered by others more qualified than themself, or they can put the blinders on and listen only to their local half-baked pastor, minister, or Amway salesman – all full of good intentions, I'm sure, but with a bottom line that is driven by the need for money. Nobody is going to force anyone to do one or the other, but let's face it, one makes more sense and the other makes less sense: would you buy a new car, washing machine or TV without reading Consumer Reports? They may or may not tell you what you want to hear about the product – they might even tell you the one you want is the worst possible choice, but at least you have to acknowledge they've done their homework.
Some people have argued Biblical interpretation "in context." My advice to all of them is to remember that they are playing with the sharp end of a double-edged sword, and that in this case, "context" IS everything: they need to read more, study more, and learn more about the history, language usage, and customs of the ancient world of the Bible before they can even begin to cite chapter and verse with any authority. Do the homework – all the way to the bitter end – lest one find oneself in the uncomfortable position someday of being physically silenced with a beating (if one is a woman who speaks up) or being fined and imprisoned (if one is found to be wearing a wool suit over a linen shirt, zipping one's zipper, eating shellfish, venturing more than forty feet from one's front door on Sunday, etc.) and wondering why.
The point of fact, established in light of 20th century discoveries and advanced scholarship by QUALIFIED biblical scholars, is that the Bible does NOT specifically address "homosexuality" per se, partly because there was no such creature as "Christian morality" two thousand years ago during those much-vaunted biblical times, and partly because both the word "homosexual" and the concept "homosexuality" were inventions of the late 19th century. And no, the Pope doesn't like the fact that even his very own Catholic scholars came up with that conclusion. Hello? How is it possible to use one's intelligence to pretend one doesn't have any? Too bad, so sad.
Unfortunately, both here at RfM and in the everyday world, those who would quote the Bible as THE authoritative source of law regularly betray TWO forms of blatant Christian hypocrisy: that of self-appointment to the office of Omnipotent and Eternal Judge and Jury (which they simultaneously claim to be solely held by their God); and that of deliberate misinterpretation of and disobedience to their own God's directive regarding the treatment of others, which dictates that they should "…not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:18; And that they should obey "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:34-35.
It makes me wonder if they can understand what they read, after all, it IS written right there in plain English.
That being said, far be it for me to lecture a Christian on the way a Christian is supposed to behave: everyone is free to behave in any silly fashion as long as it doesn't infringe on or endanger the lives or freedoms of others. It is simply my considered observation after more than forty-five years of close experience with "Christians" that, "Christianically" speaking, they themselves have no clue as to how to behave. Perhaps they should read less of the Bible (if they've ever read it at all) and read more of Miss Manners (assuming they can comprehend her advice).
However, the true, underlying issue here, lest it be lost once again, is NOT the question of whether the Bible does or does not say that "homosexuality" is "immoral."
The issue is whether ANYONE in America – and ESPECIALLY self-appointed individuals like Falwell, Dobson, Robertson et al, and lest we forget, the Mormons – possesses the right, through legislative or other means, to force others who do not HOLD the same religious beliefs as theirs to COMPLY with the dictates of their (Falwell, etc.) beliefs.
At this point, it is worth mentioning that Civil Rights are emphatically NOT attached to Religious Freedoms, and that the granting of well-deserved Civil Rights DOES NOT preclude the exercise of Religious Freedoms as defined in the U.S. Constitution (let us not forget the REAL defining document of American society, shall we?), and has never been adequately demonstrated to be capable of doing so, regardless of all the well-publicized nightmares of the so-called Religious Right.
Contrary to all the sermons preached from American pulpits – and there have been many – the societal developments which "allowed" blacks to be free, women and the poor to vote, and people to drink alcohol have NOT turned American society into a morass of dishonest and depraved perverts, unless you are considering the likes of Jim Bakker, Darlene Bishop, Ted Haggard, Kent Hovind, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Whittington, Randall Radic, and Robert Tilton.
As for the right to compel me to behave according to somebody else's religious principles as opposed to my own: no one has the moral right or the absolute power to enforce that, and I'll never stop fighting those who think they do. Call it my little contribution.
To finish up here, I have a question for those who must endlessly chant their bitter mantra that RfM and the news media cartels are biased in favor of liberals, homosexuals, and atheists: don't you feel just like Byron De La Beckwith? Like the whole world and all of history is a-passing li'l ol' you right by, and there jes' ain't nuthin' you kin do 'bout it 'cep' lash out?
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