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EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 9
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.
| I posted a few years ago about encountering Will in a local convenience store (while I was sitting in the ol' police interceptor), and how he provided some relevant information on the progress of the church-sanctioned volume as well as other subjects of mutual interest.
Friday we met for lunch (my gangsta moll, Et in Utah Ego, was supposed to be there as well, but may have fled town just ahead of the Danites), and I brought with me a mental list of questions likely to be of interest to RFM regulars. In roughly an hour-and-a-half, we discussed the Long Diaries, half-a-dozen murders in Utah circa 1850-1870, Mountain Meadows of course, and a conundrum of other subjects (note to Danny Peterson who's doubtless going to peek at this: yes, we talked about you, but no, being chubbies ourselves, we made no mention of weight problems).
The diaries of John V. Long came up first, and given their "hot button" status, I'm electing to cover this subject first. I was careful to ask Will to share only things he felt comfortable with, noting that RFM-ers had expressed considerable concern that any information they contained might be buried in a concrete vault somewhere . . .
I am now assured that's not going to happen, and since I note that Ken Sanders is giving a presentation on Tuesday on his friendship with Edward Abbey, and being a bit of an Abbey fan, I'll give him a little O/T plug. I also suspect anyone who walked into Ken's bookstore would receive straightforward answers, probably more in-depth than I'm providing, so return-and-reports are encouraged (alas, I'm not likely to make the presentation myself).
Okay, some relevant quotes from Will:
"Ken [Sanders] is protecting his seller."
Apparently the transcription process has been bogged down in some logistics stuff or some such, but will proceed . . . So it looks like some patience is called for . . .
"I pretty sure he's had high resolution scans done."
Will also stated, "I have to go into his shop to transcribe the material." As one who's familiar with the Utah collectibles market, that strikes me as de rigeur . . .
And yes, Uncle Mo, there's more than Eliza R. Snow poetry . . . Will specifically mentioned a discussion of the "Potter murder" that took place near the end of Long's career. This prompted a question from me, "The Potter-Parrish murders that happened in Springville?"
"The murder of Ike Potter, the last surviving brother in the Parrish family. This occurred in Salt Lake. Apparently his throat was slit, but the murder was never solved."
I'll leave it to the actuaries out there to comment on the probabilities of multiple murder victims in the same family . . .
| I look back at my years in the Mormon church, and wonder what, precisely, I was supposed to get out of it. On a very superficial level, it seemed appealing. It was "Christ's true church restored," after all, and it should have been pretty darned special. Going to meetings should have been a positive and uplifting experience.
What I got was rather different. I looked at the way the church treats its members, and what it does to families, and I shudder. This was not religion. This was indoctrination, and the skilled use of fear, and the heavy handed administration of "group think."
I went on a mission, and I still recall the complete surprise it was. I fully expected a happy, positive experience, based on "true love," and kindness.
What I got was a para-military nightmare, based on pressure, anger, politics,
and back stabbing,.
My companion and I were belittled in front of other missionaries by the Mission President. It was nasty display of sarcasm, meanness, and pettiness. After all these years, I still recall the way it made us feel. We had been treated like dirt.
No-one was ever thanked, or told they were appreciated. They were forced to endure endless nonsense, and a terrible sense of guilt. At meetings, they were interviewed, and confronted. Prying questions were standard fare. This, we were assured, was "religion," and "love."`
Missionaries ratted on each other, and carefully manipulated the favor of the Mission President, his harpy wife, and the boot licking assistants. Many spent the entire time looking for personal advantage.
I came home from my mission right before the church entered the Spencer Kimball excommunication orgy.
In the early 70s, the church went on a witch hunt, with constant excommunications. Everyone was aware of it. Everyone knew that once you were excommunicated, you were stained. It did not matter how well you "repented." You would still be "marked" for the rest of your life. No-one ever overlooks the sin of the sinner. I still can remember who "sinned," who had committed "sexual transgressions," and who was punished. Why did I need to know about it? It was none of my business.
Going to BYU was another exercise in Mormon control. The school was run like a police state. BYU Security was used to check on the morals of the students. Ratting on others was part of the "Honor Code," and tremendous emphasis was placed on the correct image.
Several BYU Bishops took it upon themselves to pry into the lives of the students. They even "raised the bar," and asked prying questions about the sex lives of married students, whether or not they drank Coca-Cola, and what movies they went to. It was a revolting display of incredible self-righteousness. Wards were supposed to "live a higher law." What nonsense.
BYU was not a happy, or spiritual place. It was a place of zombies, going from one dumb activity to another, and doing exactly what they were programmed to do. There was some resentment under the surface, but it did no good. The school was run by local theocrats, petty little men who got their joy from pushing kids around.
And one must not overlook what the Mormon church did to families. Far from making them happy, it spread strife, and made family members miserable. Every aspect of life was church dominated. Kids were interviewed by the church "leaders," and could not talk to their parents about problems. They were far too embarrassed and ashamed to admit "failings."
Family activities were held, but they were planned, dull, and full of constant admonitions to "be better," or "lengthen your stride. " There was no joy in any of it.
Church callings always dominated the family. Parents were always involved in the latest church program, or fad. It was all mindless---and depressing. This was no way for a family to live. It was all fake and manipulated. Mormon fun is truly depressing thing to endure. No-one can kill fun like a Mormon Priesthood "leader."
I do not know what people are supposed to get out of Mormonism. Maybe I was just not cut out to be one of the elect. Perhaps I am a hopeless backslider, and totally devoid of a spiritual sense.
I know I never could relate to the Mormon way of "improving the Saints." It was too much for me. I wanted to be treated better than that, and I did not want my kids to endure it.
| Reading the latest Ensign with all the conference talks really got me thinking about a strange phenomenon that seems unique to Mormonism. There is a HUGE chasm between the words and the deeds in this belief system. The things which are spoken of often stand in stark contrast to the reality of life within the Mormon beehive. The “talk” just never seems to match the “walk” and the sleep-walking members never seem to notice it. Here are some examples:
Boyd K. Packer gave an unbelievable conference talk about how wonderful it is that all LDS members are equals. He just gushed about how LDS, Inc. is not hierarchical with paid clergy (feel the sneering, uber superior tone here) and how all the common members lead the Church and no one is any better than any one else.
Uh,....WHAT??? Is this man on drugs? The Mormon Church is absolutely OBSESSED with pecking order and social status and who is “above” whom in the intricately stratified Mormon culture. This belief system is just eaten up with hierarchical structures – it is worse than the Catholic Church, fer cryin’ out loud!!! The reality of Mormonism is completely opposite of what ole Boyd is saying here and it is just plain as the nose on your face that this is the case.
How about the old chestnut about a mission being the best two years of your life? Everyone who ever went on a mission KNOWS this is pure bunk! My TBM MIL almost left her senior mission because it was such a huge waste of time, but she is in her home ward now undoubtedly parroting the same bilge with gusto. Mormons talk incessantly about how great serving a mission is when in fact almost everyone has had direct personal experience to the contrary. What is the matter with these people??? How can an entire group of people perpetuate the same delusion?
What about the constant talk about what makes people “happy”. Mormons say the same things over and over – live the gospel, follow the brethren, be obedient - pay, pray and obey - and you WILL be happy and blessed. Members merely need to look at themselves in the mirror and think about the reality of their own personal experiences. What about that super TBM family sitting next to you in Sacrament meeting, or the one who lives down the street? Are these people really “happy” with lives full of blessings? Is there any discernable difference between these people and non-Mormons? Again our personal experiences and what we observe in the real world stand in direct contrast to this promise. People are NOT happy – members are NOT blessed. They are depressed, miserable, guilt-ridden and beaten down!
Why is it that Mormonism has this incredible Grand Canyon between what is said and what is experienced? It seems much worse in this belief system than in others I have encountered. Why are the members so willing to accept the WORDS of the leaders without ever measuring those words against observable behavior and experience? The discrepancy between the two is absurdly obvious! How are Mormons able to reconcile the difference between what is said and what is actually done?
Please help me understand this - it boggles my mind!
| I experienced a trifecta of BS at church yesterday...
First, the elders quorum meeting lesson was on Joseph Smith. I had a very hard time sitting thru this propaganda period without puking. There was a line in the lesson manual that actually read, speaking of Joseph:
"This budding prophet had no preconceived false notions and beliefs. He was not steeped in the traditions and legends and superstitions and fables of the centuries. He had nothing to unlearn." The Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball; Chapter 21.
I can not recall an individual MORE influenced by his surroundings, colloquial mysticism and surrounding influences than Joseph Smith. The lesson paints a wholly rosy and glorious picture of Smith, saying nothing of the shallow, vain, base, perverted practices he perpetuated.
The staggering thing is that these men just sat there and said nothing! No one challenged the veracity of this rubbish.
I thought to myself that this display would be very much like the eulogy for a monster of a man. No one speaks ill of the deceased; they only speak of good things and gloss over the monster that he was. And no one says a word.
At one point, the instructor mentioned the change in the introduction of the BOM. He presented the change as a statement of fact and then paused and said, "I don't care...I still know it's true".
I left more disgusted than I have ever felt about TSCC. The lies and propaganda that is spun out as "lessons" is purely for indoctrination.
Second, a neighbor dropped off a copy of The Friend for my 3 year old. The first story in the issue tells of a young family that chooses to not buy food in order to pay tithing....and at the end of the article, there are suggested questions to ask young readers:
"What would you do if you were hungry and the only money you had was for tithing?" (The Friend, Nov. 2007 pg. 3).
My DD will NOT be reading this or any edition of The Friend.
And lastly, while teaching my sunday school class, a student stated how much she detested her seminary teacher and thought how narrow minded and "stupid" he was. She had asked the ST about where dinosaurs fit into the POS. He answered that dinosaurs had never existed and that the "evidence" was placed here on earth as a test of our faith. WTF?????? Luckily the kids in my class all thought this was total BS.
Pure manipulative evil.
| I posted a review here a few years ago of a presentation Will gave at Ken Sanders' Rare Books where he remarked there's room for considerable debate about the number of Indians involved in the events and murders of the Fancher/Baker party in September, 1857, particularly in the initial attack, which killed or seriously wounded most of the adult men in the wagon train.
I was acting strictly as a reporter, passing on that Bagley noted the Paiutes' oral tradition is they weren't involved (although some clearly were at some point), that it was pine nut season, etc. I did remark that I found this credible, since Will noted there were only two or three rifles among all the Indians of Southern Utah, and I had a hard time believing Mormons would willingly "furnish guns to the Indians."
Although I said nothing at the time, I have some familiarity with firearms of that period; the lunch with Will at Lamb's Restaurant included some old memories of mine which we talked about. Will didn't know my grandfather, who passed away before he joined the history group my grandfather co-founded along with Harold Schindler (Will's mentor), but at one time my grandfather owned a substantial gun collection and had detailed knowledge of the era he gleaned from reading and hanging out with Harold (who eventually wrote my grandfather's obituary).
I caught some flak from some heavyweight posters, notably RandyJ, who admonished me for posting that no Indians were involved in MMM. I wound up tossing out a few of those one-liners we cabbies usually reserve for recalcitrant fares, and noted I was only acting as a messenger, but I also had a whole lot more familiarity with the geography of Utah, as well the Native American mindset, which led to me give considerable weight to those views.
The lunch was an outgrowth of some e-mails between Will and myself where, besides discussing the Long Diaries, I outlined the problem (How many Indians?) and the various reports, particularly the "confessions" of John D. Lee (I've read and own both Juanita Brooks' biography of Lee as well as a reprint of his attorney W.W. Bishop's volume).
The following are taken from Will's e-mail replies and are posted by permission:
>Lee's lying about the first attack: no white man in 1877 could admit to leading an Indian assault on a wagon train. He also is lying about the fact that most of his initial attackers were Indians: they were Mormons.
I raised the issue about the logistics of the Indians being back in Southern Utah by Sept. 7, noting--my grandfather was an old Southern Utah sheepherder, and I recalled him mentioning this subject, although not involving MMM--that while 50-60 miles a day on horseback or by carriage was easily feasible, sustained travel would need to include time for the horses to recover. Will replied,
>The Indians who met with Young on 1 September could have been back in [Southern] Utah by the sixth without breaking a sweat: Kanosh had a carriage, and Ammon (who had his wife with him when he met Brigham Young) was back in Beaver in time to attack the Dukes train while the massacre was going on. For my money, it doesn't matter if the Indians BY met with on the first were in the massacre: what he did was a criminal act that led to murder, if not at MM, in Box Elder and elsewhere. BY's orders to round up the Indians and attack the Fanchers were what should have gotten him hanged, and those orders went south with George A. Smith before BY even saw the Indians.
Will and I are still corresponding on the subject of Indian travel, etc., although as one might guess, the Long Diaries are occupying his time at present. I've presented to him the problem of finding a source for firearms (there's an inventory list compiled by Geo. A. Smith on this matter) that didn't involve crossing the plains in 1857, and I have some sources of my own I'll be following on this one.
More from the e-mail . . .
>Anyway, my estimate of the number of Indians at the event keeps dropping. Here's a writeup:
>So, what was the extent of Indian involvement in the massacre? To this day, Mormon historians avoid addressing the question directly, preferring to cite the incredible numbers the murderers reported at the John D. Lee trial. Participant estimates were as high as Lee's "wild and excited band of several hundred Indians" to John Higbee's "four to six hundred 'savages." When asked how many Indians were present at the slaughter, Philip Klingensmith said, "I could not tell you, but the hills were pretty full around there." He became even more evasive when Lee's defense council asked how many he actually saw: "I could not tell." The defense asked again, and the witness said, "I saw a good many around there." Finally, Bishop asked, "How many did you understand, from those in authority, were there?" Klingensmith had "heard it talked of that there was something more than a hundred Indians there." Bishop asked if, "Of your own knowledge, that there was over three hundred there?"
>Klingsensmith?s answer is illuminating: "I do not."
>In contrast to the talk of hundreds of Indians, participant Joel White testified there "might have been 40 or 50, somewheres along there."
>Beaverite said there were not more than one hundred Indians involved, which appears to be a reasonable upper limit for the total number of native participants over the entire week. However, given the conditions Professor Knapp describes, even these numbers appear improbably high, a fact other experts confirm. LaVan Martineau collected twenty-six accounts of war and conflict from Southern Paiute informants, but the largest war party he identified consisted of only twelve members.
>Assembling even a few dozen Indian "warriors" to attack a wagon train would require considerable effort, but their numbers were augmented by recruits from among the "several hundred Indians, held in servitude" in Utah Territory. Surviving accounts place at least three "adopted sons" at the massacre: Hamblin's Albert, a Shoshone; Samuel Knight's John from the Las Vegas Band; and John D. Lee's Clem. As early as 1851, Brigham Young had directed southern Utah settlers "to buy up the Lamanite children as fast as they could, and educate them and teach them the gospel, so that many generations would not pass ere they should become a white and delightsome people." By the middle of September 1851, the pioneers of Parowan had purchased ten Indian children. The stalwarts of the Southern Indian mission, including Lee, Hamblin, Klingensmith, and George A. Smith all participated in the Indian slave trade: when it came to kill the Arkansans, the Nauvoo Legion's native auxiliaries may have consisted almost exclusively of such "adopted" servants.
Other issues that arose in the discussion included the accuracy of Lee's "fingering" of a number of the participants at MMM. All were either confessed participants, dead, or other enemies of Lee who weren't involved.
I remarked that Lee had left a sticky mess for historians to unscramble, and Will nodded.
On the subject of his new book, "Innocent Blood," co-written with Ken Bigler, he anticipates a summer publication, and when I asked about the church sanctioned volume, he shrugged with an obvious "who knows?" He remarked that Oxford press is saying they haven't yet received the manuscript for publication. The figure--doubtless in the millions--involving probable church monies spent on this one has to be mind-boggling . . .
All in all, a remarkable afternoon . . .
| I am ticked off. 10 years in the Bishopric and on the High Council. 4 years teaching lies (sorry, kids, I didn't know) in Seminary. Just three of my many callings over the years.
Show me a home where a new convert to the Morg lives and I will show you a home with no internet access.
Why, other that to impress and capture a mate would anyone convert to corporation founded upon magical thinking, lies, and a comic book called the Book of Mormon? Turn off your computer, your brain and throw out your books and "tell me how you FEEL." Total crap.
Making a prediction is difficult, especially if it pertains to the future. Joseph got it right 0% of the time. That is not an estimate: he was right exactly 0% of the time. I am no profit, but here is a prediction:
If the LDS church continues to lie, cover up, and distort its history, it will go away. I mean that. No corporation, even one as successful at selling fiction and hiding from the truth while bilking people as LDS, inc., can stake its continued success upon the stupidity of its customers (they call them 'members').
The sneaky, recent change in the introduction to the BOM to reflect the FACT that there is not one drop of Israelite blood among the native americans is not even a tiptoe toward the truth. FARMS (Fictitious Ancient Rubbish and Musings Suffice) and other apologists are embarrassing themselves. News flash: the Mayans are not the Nephites. Get rid of the paintings and replace them with the truth. Why is the ridiculous funerary text still cannonized as the Book of Abraham, even though it has been factually shown to be a fraud? There is no way to defend it. LDS Inc. is embarrassing.
LDS Inc. has no respect for its feeble-testimonied customers. They can't handle the truth! So they continue to paint the lying, deceiving, peep stone reading, plagarizing, adulterous, polyandrous, delusional, egomaniacal, criminal womanizer Joseph Smith as some kind of super hero.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, folks: Angels do not deliver golden books to humans! And no Israelite ever kept a record in a pagan language just to save writing space. You want "reformed Egyptian?" Look at the Book of Abraham. Now that is deformed Egyptian.
Talk about the "philosophies of men, mingled with scripture." The Morg is worse than all of the things it has pretended to warn people against.
Did you know that there are no "anti-mormons?" Show me a book or person the Morg has labeled "ant-mormon" and I will show you a book and a person who expose the truth. TRUTH is the enemy of LIES. LIGHT is a terrible thing to introduce into a closet full of skeletons.
I was TBM all the way. It pains me to know what is going on. Internet and a few books did me in: not because I sinned. Not because I was offended. Not because I was weak. It was simply coming face to face with the truth about Joseph Smith and the sickness plaguing LDS Inc. There is no conduit to heaven. There is no inspiration. There are only old men telling lies about the past inorder to preserve the present.
It will not work. I am not anti-mormon. I simply believe in the TRUTH. Just like the Morg wanted me to.
Let's say I have "studied it out in my mind."
| My comments concerning Mormonism immediately follow each enumerated dysfunctional characteristic.
1. Family members are not allowed to express the “wrong” emotions
3. Perfectionist (parents who “fixate on order, prestige, power, and/or perfect appearances.”)
- Frequent admonitions
- Not doing enough home/visiting teaching, temple work, cleaning the building, shoveling the walks, service
4. “Dogmatic or chaotic parenting” (harsh and inflexible discipline)
- This one speaks for itself
5. Conditional love
- Unreachable perfectionist behaviors required to reach the Celestial Kingdom
6. Social dysfunction or isolation
- God only blesses those who do what he/the church leaders say
- God only blesses those who are baptized
- God only blesses those who belong to the church
7. Stifled speech (children not allowed to dissent or question authority)
- In the world but not of the world
- Shunning of apostates
8. Using (destructively narcissistic parents)
- Excommunication, disfellowshipment, social pressure, etc for those who question
9. Extremes in conflict (either too much or too little fighting between family members)
- Members required to give large sums of money and much of their free time to build up and maintain the organization
- Temple work
- Geneology work
- Self paid missionary service
- “Contention is of the devil”
- “Agree with thine adversary quickly”
Actually the gods of the Koran and Torah (Old Testament) are worse. This probably indicates the true natures of Joseph Smith, Mohammed, and the Canaanite King Josiah. These three weirdos’ destructive and abusive behavior is reflected in their warped “religious” texts and the resultant pseudo religions.
| What I find utterly insulting about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is that a GA can make a pronouncement from the pulpit and it can be written down, and repeated by countless members, that blacks were less valiant, that they have the mark of Cain, and that they are cursed, but the man that Mormons think of as a prophet will not stand up and call him on it.
Anybody who has done a cursory reading of agency law knows that the acts of the GAs do bind the whole LDS church. They are given the authority to do everything else for the LDS church, and they are held out as having authority to speak for the LDS church. More importantly, their position, the fact that they believe they have authority to speak for the LDS church, and the fact that members believe they have the authority to speak on behalf of the LDS church, means that they really are speaking for the LDS church.
It does no good to come back 100 years later and say, "Just kidding!"
The damage has been done. The words of Brigham Young have been repeated as if they were church doctrine. And people have based their opinions, Sunday School lessons, and even major life decisions based on these teachings. To come back and say that these men were just speaking as men, and not speaking for the entire LDS church, is insulting. Try saying that next time you give a talk in church. Read something from the Ensign, and quote a GA or a 70, then remind the congregation that the man was only speaking as a man. See what kind of response you get.
The words of church leaders are to be taken as gospel; words upon which to base your life. When they tell you not to put off marriage or children, and to get an education, and young people marry and have children based on that advice, they are living their lives based on advice of church leaders. They are being told that they are living the gospel by raising up a family. If church leaders are only speaking as men when they give this advice, are members free to pick and choose which teachings to live by and which to ignore? I think not.
I plan on expanding on this idea in the future.
For reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agency_(...
| I recall watching an interview with Larry King, Desmond Tutu, Robert Schueller (a man I loathe), and Gordon Hinckley a few years ago.
Hinckley was in the tabernacle--filled with Christmas trappings--- when the interview was filmed, and he said that "Mormons have become widely respected for their values, and the way they live their lives." Those are not his exact words, but that is what he said.
I was a bit surprised when I heard him. It was news to me. I had not noticed much in the way of universal respect or affection for Mormons.
This election year has been interesting, because it has shown the distrust, unfriendly curiosity, and outright dislike many have for Mormons.
I am not trying to be political, but it has been fascinating to see the struggle Mitt Romney has had trying to get past the "Mormon issue." It turns out people just are not crazy about the thought of a Mormon President. Gee, what a shock.
I don't think Mormons ever get past the standard issues----polygamy, Masonic rituals, and a closed society. Additionally, the Mormon missionary effort has made people dislike Mormons. Who wants some nut cases knocking on their door, and bothering them? When most people think of Mormons, they think of polygamy, annoying kids in white shirts knocking on their door, the Oz-like temples, and funny underwear. It does not get beyond that.
Hinckley made a huge effort to make the church respectable. He wrote his book, paid to publish the "Book of Mormon" by a real publisher, and had countless PR spots on the radio and television,
He went public himself, and showed up with Mike Wallace, Larry King, and God knows who else. In the process, he lied, weaved, bobbed, and distanced himself from everything the church members thought he would back up----polygamy, man becoming a god, and revelation. Suddenly, all the stuff Mormons believed in was thrown overboard by the Great Leader himself. "WTF?" people asked themselves. The answers were painful to contemplate. Hinckley is embarrassed by the church. He can't look directly into the camera and say "Yes, I am a prophet, and I receive revelation." He cannot say 'Yes, we believe and teach that man, through eternal progression, can become a god."
So where does all of this leave the poor souls who are dragging themselves to "tithing settlement" this week? They know their church is laughed at, taken as a joke, and denied by the Great Leader. About the only things Mormons can be sure of now is that its wrong to have more than one earring, and that no-one likes them.
| 1. SCIENCE AND LAMANITES -- Recent DNA research overwhelmingly claims that Native Americans (aka "Lamanites") are not Hebrew descendants as Joseph Smith asserted. According to anthropologists the Native Americans are primarily from Siberia/Mongolia and came to North America much earlier than 600 BCE. No DNA evidence even hints that the Book of Mormon's claim that a Hebrew group is the principal ancestor of the Native Americans is accurate. The DNA evidence of Native Americans coming overwhelmingly from Siberia/Mongolia is consistent with the well-established consensus theories of archaeologists, anthropologists and linguists. During the early 19th century the idea that Native Americans were Hebrew descendents was an idea written and promoted by Ethan Smith (no known close relation to Joseph Smith) and possibly others before the timeline given by Joseph Smith for when he claimed to have translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God.
2. BOOK OF MORMON HISTORICITY -- Archaeologists from BYU and elsewhere are quoted as saying there is no validity to the topography of the Book of Mormon, and no evidence of the existence of any of the groups in the Book of Mormon. There are more than a dozen items and domestic species mentioned in the Book of Mormon that have never been known to have existed in the New World, such as: Egyptian hieroglyphs, metal swords, functional wheels, chariots, chains, carriages, brass armor, coins, glass, wheat, figs, olives, grapes, barley, sheep, oxen, goats, asses, horses, bulls, elephants.
3. BOOK OF ABRAHAM -- In the 1830s Joseph Smith obtained some mummies originating from the catacombs of Egypt which contained some papyri that Joseph Smith declared were written by Abraham the Old Testament patriarch by his own hand upon papyrus. Joseph Smith claimed to translate some of these writings into English by the power of God and the Church accepted this translation as true, correct and a scripture called the Book of Abraham (with its three facsimiles). Around 1846 the papyri were lost from the Church but returned in the late 1960s after being discovered in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Since the 1830s the modern scholarly field of Egyptology has developed more maturely due to discoveries like the Rosetta Stone and the widespread dissemination of scholarly research information. This has made it possible to easily translate ancient Egyptian writings and verify Joseph Smith’s claims whereas this was nearly impossible to do in the American frontier during the 1840s. Since the papyri’srediscovery many of the world’s top Egyptologists have translated the papyri/facsimiles and have declared that Joseph Smith’s translation is absolutely incorrect and that the papyri and facsimiles are common funeral text/engravings for individual(s) who lived after 500 BC in Egypt and they have nothing to do with Abraham at all. No group or body of scholars even pretends that Joseph Smith's divine transcriptions are partly accurate.
4. METHODS FOR RESOLVING SERIOUS CONCERNS -- It is difficult to understand how the methods of the LDS leadership and scholars on the serious issues regarding the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham are completely honest. (1) The present-day leadership has consistently instructed members to proselyte the religion with people everywhere and that the members will be held accountable by God if they don’t do all they can to help others learn about the religion and overcome any concerns they might have which keep them from progressing in the religion. Yet the leadership leaves the members to fend for themselves on these very difficult and important issues. This is most disturbing particularily regarding issues on the Book of Mormon because the Church teaches that it’s the foundation of the religion and that the Church is true if and only if its claim of the Book of Mormon being true scripture from the principal ancestors of the Native Americans. Members who suggest that the leadership should at least try to be honest and do all they can to help others sincerely understand a solution to these issues are subject to excommunication. Its well known that the leadership has purposely kept hidden much information on these issues from its members. (2) Those who do speak out publicly to defend the faith on these issues (such as scholars at BYU’s FARMS) use tactics like ignoring inconvenient facts, revising history or by simply making up unsubstantiated scenarios which require incredible mental gymnastics to be considered remotely possible. On the Book of Abraham there are two key arguments often used by apologists to explain this dilemma (a) we haven’t found the correct papyri (yet we definitely have the facsimiles and they are clearly mistranslated by Joseph Smith), (b) the papyri wasn’t actually the writings of Abraham but a catalyst for receiving revelation (yet we have many eyewitness accounts of Joseph Smith boldly declaring that the papyri was actually written by Abraham himself and the title page of the Book of Abraham even says “by his own hand upon papyrus”). On the Book of Mormon issues two popular theories have emerged - (a) the Lamanites mixed with natives from Siberia/Mongolia shortly after their arrival in the Americas (but the Book of Mormon clearly states that these people were kept hidden from the knowledge of all other people and that it was preserved for them after the Jaredite demise until the coming of European explorers after 1000 AD), (b) the Lamanites were never a large people and we have yet to find them (but the LDS leaders and Book of Mormon make it clear that this was a great civilization which was indeed the principal ancestor of almost all if not all of the Native Americans and that they will play a major role in the Church’s mission in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ).
5. POLYGAMY and Earthly/Scriptural LAWS -- In 1835 the Church introduced a book called the Doctrine and Covenants which was accepted by the membership as the word of the Lord and canonized as scripture. It contained an article (titled Section 101) which specifically forbade members of the Church from practicing polygamy. During the life of Joseph Smith no known attempts by him to remove this article from this book of scripture are known. When the Saints moved to Illinois the laws of that State also specifically prohibited polygamy. While in Nauvoo Joseph Smith wrote the Articles of Faith which contained phrases “we believe in obeying, honor and sustaining the law” and “we believe in being honest, true, chaste”. Yet Joseph Smith was secretly practicing polygamy in Nauvoo while publicly denying its practice. He also entered polygamous relationships behind the back of his wife Emma. Other Church leaders were also commanded to enter polygamy during this Nauvoo era but the Church leaders issued denials in discourse, with their own scriptures and even using excommunication as a tool to keep up the public image that they were not practicing polygamy. A newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor was started by some formerly faithful members who were outraged about the deceit over polygamy and Joseph Smith unlawfully ordered that the newspaper be destroyed after its 1st publication. The destruction of this press is what resulted in Joseph Smith’s incarceration at Carthage in June 1844 where he was killed in a gun battle. Finally in the 1850s after their arrival to Utah the Church leaders publicly announced that they had indeed been practicing polygamy despite all their previous denials. During the next three decades Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, John Taylor, Joseph F. Smith and other top Church leaders publicly declared many times that polygamy was essential for exaltation and that it was God’s will that if the Church would ever give up the doctrine and mortal practice of polygamy then they would be damned. They were also taught that the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom was only reserved for those who would be polygamists. During this early era in Utah the 1835 Section 101 was removed from the Doctrine and Covenants and replaced by the present-day Section 132. There is also a myth in the Church that the practice of new sanctioned polygamous marriages was discontinued almost immediately in 1890 after the Manifesto was issued by Wilford Woodruff when in fact the practice continued to be sanctioned and extended privately by members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for over a decade while publicly denied in order to help facilitate the efforts for Utah Statehood and the Church getting their properties, temples and rights restored following their punishment and disenfranchisement for their defiance against the laws on polygamy. In fact Wilford Woodruff himself married an additional plural wife just 7 years after the Manifesto was issued. During the Reed Smoot Senate investigation around 1904 it was disclosed affirmatively by Church leaders that the Apostles (including Church President Joseph F. Smith) were purposely breaking the law and their promises to the federal government regarding polygamy. The Church finally took action to prevent all further authorizations of new polygamous marriages. In the present-day President Gordon B. Hinckley has said that polygamy is not doctrinal while many of his predecessors have declared that it was indeed doctrinal and absolutely essential to be practiced in this life for exaltation. The Church also continues to teach that God and his doctrines are unchanging.
6. MASONIC SYMBOLS AND WORDINGS -- The LDS Church heavily emphasizes to its members the importance of the Temple and the Endowment ordinance. Since the Nauvoo era the Church has received considerable criticism for plagiarizing the Masonic rites. In 1836 the first LDS temple was dedicated in Kirtland, Ohio and the Church teaches that Joseph Smith received the temple ordinance keys there. The ordinances performed in the Kirtland temple contained none of the unique characteristics that are commonly associated with Masonic rites. While in Nauvoo Joseph Smith became a Mason and six weeks later he introduced the Endowment ordinance which the Church teaches is essential for salvation. Those who are familiar with the Freemasonry rites and the Endowment will clearly recognize the exact plagiarism that exists in many places. Some early LDS leaders taught that the Masonic rites were apostate versions of the Endowment handed down and distorted from the time of King Solomon’s temple yet Freemasonry experts reject this analysis. In addition the Church leadership has made many changes to the Endowment since its introduction during the 1840s which lead many scholars to conclude that there are more differences between some portions of the 1840s Endowment and the 1990s Endowment than there were differences between some portions of the 1840s Masonic rites and 1840s Endowment. So if the Masonic rites were really an apostate version of the Endowment then one must accept that fewer changes were made to portions without prophetic guidance during 2700+ years in the Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Middle Ages, Renaissance and American colonization eras than with prophetic guidance during the past 150 years where recordkeeping skills have generally been far better than those available in earlier times where printing presses and modern technology tools were unavailable. Today the members are not told by Church leaders about the similarities between the Masonic rites and the Endowment. Even if the defenders’ views about this issue are correct and the Endowment was indeed revealed from God to Joseph Smith its still undeniably PLAGIARISM because Joseph Smith knew about the Masonic wordings before he introduced the Endowment and no credit to the Masons for these wordings are fairly acknowledged by the Church today.
7. NATURE OF GOD AND OUR POTENTIAL -- During the last 2 decades of his life Brigham Young consistently taught that Adam was indeed God the Father. Many defenders of the faith like to claim that the critics twist his words out of context yet most honest scholars who carefully study his entire discourses attest that Brigham Young actually believed that Adam was indeed God the Father. Church leaders privately acknowledge that they believe that this is what Brigham Young meant. Some modern-day Church leaders like Spencer W. Kimball have publicly declared the Adam-God doctrine to be false. A belief is rampant in the Church that LDS Church leaders regularily talk to God face to face. The Church also teaches that God is unchanging. Yet how could a true prophet believe that God was Adam yet just a century later another true prophet believe that God is not Adam? Joseph Smith once taught that God was once a man and that men may become gods. LDS leaders have consistently counseled members that if they will do all that God expects of them in this life then they will become gods in the hereafter. This goal has been a great cause for so many members sacrificing so much in this life because of this goal for the hereafter. Yet the current Church President Gordon B. Hinckley has seriously confused the members about whether such a goal is really in the works. In several media interviews he was asked about this teaching of God once being a man and he said “I don’t know that we teach that … its more a couplet than anything.” Essentially it appears to observers that President Hinckley is confirming that the Church really doesn’t know what is going to happen in the hereafter and that all these ideas about God being a man and men becoming gods is just a couplet or myth.
8. GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT -- Church youth and members are taught that the leadership is blessed with special spiritual gifts such as the gift of discernment. This teaching is used as a fear tactic to get members to both gossip about each other to Church leaders and to discuss very personal private matters with Church leaders. Yet from 1925 to 1943 one of the prophet, seer, revelator, apostles named Richard Lyman (a member of the Quorum of the Twelve) was secretly practicing polygamy and committing adultery yet was never detected for 18 years by any of the other leaders and the members-at-large were required to accept him as a prophet, seer, revelator, apostle or else be considered apostate. Once Lyman’s activities were reported he was quickly excommunicated but it remains an acknowledged fact that his violations of the LDS chastity rules went undiscerned by his leaders for 18 years. During the 1980's a living Mormon prophet and many apostles were personally duped by the charisma of master-forger Mark Hoffman (since convicted of murder), who presented them with documents he specifically designed to interest them by containing controversial historical data which he anticipated they would want to suppress.
9. DISCLOSURE and ACCOUNTABILITY -- The Church carefully guards access to its detailed finances, funding and statistics while it makes tremendous effort to gather such information and use it to further its purposes. The Church does not allow its general membership to know any typical details that large non-profit organizations usually release. Tithing (often defined by church leaders as 10% of a person’s gross income) are mandatory in order to be considered temple worthy and many people have had to be excluded from being able to attend the wedding of a son, daughter, brother, sister or other close relative/friend because of this tithing requirement. LDS leaders often hint at promises that tithe payers will receive increased income and temporal blessings from paying tithes, yet Utah (where most residents are LDS) remains one of the poorest states in the US, ranks among the highest in personal bankruptcies, and ranks among the highest in use of anti-depressant medications.
10. IS HONESTY IMPORTANT? -- The Church teaches that complete honesty is necessary for salvation. They teach that we will be accountable to God if we only tell part of the truth because this is dishonesty. They teach that there are NO acceptable reasons to be dishonest. The living prophet today (Gordon B. Hinckley) tells us that honesty is the essence of integrity and demands that we be straightforward, unequivocal, in walking the straight and narrow line of what is right and true even at times when it might seem enticing or easier to cheat. The Church has also taught that all truths will consistently meet the challenges of their critics and emerge triumphant and that only error needs to fear freedom of expression. They key scripture introduced by the missionaries in the 1st discussion is "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7) and this scripture is used to emphasize that the Church's foundation rests on God conducting his affairs on the earth through prophets today. Yet its difficult for many honestly seeking the Spirit to really understand how the Church leaders can really be following their own teachings to be completely honest in leading and guiding and that they have ever really repented of any times when they may have been less than completely honest.
| 1. The movie The Lost Book of Abraham (watch for free on YouTube), single handily falsifies Joseph Smith’s status as a prophet (The Lost Book of Abraham, 2002). Like the Book of Mormon, Smith simply pulled the Book of Abraham out of his ass. BYU’s Foundation for the Apologetic Research of Mormon Studies (FARMS) doesn’t have shit on this, at least any that sticks. Since the original papyrus has been rediscovered, verified by the Mormon Church as what Smith translated from, and discredited by every Egyptologist to ever analyze it, we can conclude that Smith was a conman.
2. Mormons literally believe in the Biblical account of creation. They teach of Adam and Eve as if they walked the Earth sometime within the past 10,000 years. Thousands of pieces of evidence, some of which you can literally hold in your hands, from paleontology, biology, genetics, and the entire fossil record prove that humans shared a common ancestor with chimpanzees around seven to 10 million years ago. If you don’t believe in evolution, you’re a dipshit and that’s probably why you’re a Mormon or Christian. Either that you just don’t know enough, in which case you should visit Talkorgins.org and humbly educate yourself. We’ve educated ourselves out of (schizophrenic) relationships with Christ.
3. Because there is zero archeological or historical evidence found in Mesoamerican cultures that even slightly verify the myths of the Book of Mormon. Mormons believe Christ came to the Americas and was well received by ancient Native Americans sometime around 33 AD. However, there isn’t one shred of evidence found anywhere that such an event occurred. And then there’s the fact that modern science has proven that Native Americans today did not come out of Israel around 600 BC and that genetic similarities are non-existent, but the Book of Mormon says otherwise. DNA evidence refutes the Book of Mormon.
4. Mormons only believe in the Bible as far as it is translated correctly, but they clearly teach in Sunday school that Noah’s flood literally happened and covered the entire world for 40 days and 40 nights. Mormons (and Christians) believe that two of all 1.8 million species on Earth today, 800,000 of which are insects, lived within walking distance of Noah’s ark. Furthermore, upon the recession of the waters when Noah opened up the ark, polar bears made a mad sprint back to the arctic, marsupials to Australia, and ant eaters to South America where those animals have naturally inhabited for millions of years. And God miraculously hid all evidence of every animal on Earth walking off some boat in the Middle East some 5,000 years ago.
5. Because Utah, which is predominantly Mormon, leads the nation in anti-depressant use at twice the national average (Unhappy In Utah, Study: 'Beehive State' Leads Nation in Anti-Depressant Prescriptions, 2002). Furthermore, as published in the world renowned book IQ and the Wealth of Nations, Utah as the 2nd lowest aggregate IQ score in the country (Lynn and Vanhanen, 2002). By freeing ourselves of Mormon myths we effectively rid our minds of depression and stupidity.
6. Because the laying on of hands, that event all Mormons wet themselves over when someone becomes miraculously healed by the Priesthood, is the manifestation of the placebo effect and nothing more.
7. Because we don’t need fear of damnation to behave properly. The National Institute of Health has proven that altruism is a human trait, not a religious one (Vedantum, 2007). Another study concludes that less religious societies have less poverty, crime, teen pregnancies, children being born out of wedlock, and overall societal dysfunction (Paul, 2005). Education and acceptance of evolution in such societies are also much higher, which is pretty obvious.
We don’t need to fear a god who often condones murder, rape, slavery, ritual human sacrifice, genocide, and infanticide to be decent human beings (Evil Bible). We don’t need to heed the words of his son, because Jesus Christ commands parents to kill their cursing children. Unfortunately, the atonement, the forgiveness of all sins by a god so powerful he can’t even just forgive sins without bloodshed, is the ultimate scapegoat of human responsibility.
8. Because spiritual experiences and testimonies have a scientific explanation, they are brought on by stimulation of certain areas of the brain through meditation and prayer. This explains why Muslims crash into towers when they get spiritual, while Mormons just pay 10% of every dollar they earn and gobble up every piece of bullshit that ever comes out of Salt Lake.
“Findings seem to point to a region of the brain commonly referred to as the 'God Spot' or 'God Module', that when stimulated creates hallucinations that are interpreted as mystical or spiritual experiences. This 'spot' is stimulated during meditation and prayer and is affected by electromagnetic fields and epilepsy. The resulting hallucinations may be the cause of mystical, spiritual and paranormal experiences as they can give feelings such as a presence in the room or an out of body experience. In the case of epileptics, this may be the reason for many of them becoming obsessed with religion. For those who experience the stimulation it is explained related to their own personal beliefs; a visit from an angel or lost loved one, an extraterrestrial encounter, a higher plane of consciousness or a visit from God.”
(God and the Brain)
9. Because we have a likening for validity, not naivety. We let facts speak for themselves. This is the 21st century and we’re not living in the Dark Ages anymore. We respect evidence, rational thought, logic, and science, not faith and superstition.
10. Because as Richard Dawkins says, “Faith is the process of non-thinking.” Faith is gullibility. Also from Dr. Dawkins, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
(n.d.). Retrieved from Evil Bible: http://www.evilbible.com/
God and the Brain. (n.d.). Retrieved from Atheist Empire: http://atheistempire.com/reference/br...
Lynn, R., and Vanhanen, T. (2002). IQ and the Wealth of Nations. Praeger Publishers.
Paul, G. S. (2005). Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health. Journal of Religion and Society , 7.
The Lost Book of Abraham (2002). [Motion Picture].
Unhappy In Utah, Study: 'Beehive State' Leads Nation in Anti-Depressant Prescriptions. (2002, June 3). Retrieved from CBS Worldwide Inc: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/0...
Vedantum, S. (2007, May 28). If it feels good to be good, it might only be natural. Washington Post , A01.
| Mormon doctrinal teaching on the word: agency.
Words in quotes are from "GOSPEL PRINCIPLES", Chapter 4, a teaching manual for a Sunday School class - copyright 1978 Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
Mormonism's doctrine/principle of "AGENCY" is "freedom to choose which in a nut shell means:" freedom to choose between good and evil."
They call it an "eternal principle" that was part of our "pre earth life" which means "we were free agents."
[That is where the concept of "free agency" comes from.]
"There must be opposition in all things." see 2 Nephi 2:11
"When we follow he temptations of Satan we limit our choices."
"God's commandments direct us away from danger and toward eternal life. By choosing wisely, we will gain exaltation, progress eternally, and enjoy perfect happiness. see Nephi 2:27-28"
All scriptural references are from the BOM, Pearl of Great Price, DandC, three from the Bible.
They cover these topics:
freedom of choice, agency in pre-existence, earth life-a test, works judged, opposition is necessary, choosing good and evil, sin is bondage, reward according to works.
Agency in Mormonism is shown by this teaching manual be predominately defined by Joseph Smith Jr in the Book of Mormon
This is how bizarre Mormon object lessons can get. This from the manual I quoted above.
"Place a treat within the reach of some person. Loosely wrap a cord around him, binding his arms to his body. Ask him if he can reach the treat.
Tighten the cord so that the person is bound. Explain that sin and ignorance also interfere with agency and prevent us from receiving blessings from God. Point out that repentance and righteous living free us from the bondage of sin."
NOTE: this is the manual used for the "Investigator" classes in Sunday School!
Can you imagine teaching this lesson to adults investigating the church?Of course, "investigating" is a misnomer!
Now to clarify and understand the word: AGENCY.
The word: agency is a noun.
Inflected Form(s): plural -cies
Mormon teachings/doctrine has changed the meaning to actually be what could be considered "free will choice."
Attach good and evil to the word agency as in choose God or Satan is nonsense also..
That is not what the word agency means, of course.
Nor does the word have anything to do with choices, or have anything to do with subjective versions of good or evil.
- the office or function of an agent b : the relationship between a principal and his agent
- the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power : OPERATION
- a person or thing through which power is exerted or an end is achieved : INSTRUMENTALITY
- an establishment engaged in doing business for another
- an administrative division (as of a government)
Every time I hear the word agency, or free agency, I know that it's a Mormon who does not know the real meaning of words and has misused it and believes the made up versions as fact.
Anybody else notice this about Mormonism?
What other words has Mormonism made up or changed the meaning?
| When we challenge another's faith, I believe we fill them with a fear of annihilation after this life. Following a recent discussion with one of my fellow exmo brothers, this concept struck me in its veracity.
I would argue at the subconscious core of every human being is the desire to continue to live or exist in some manner following the death of our mortal remains. Our consciousness is something that we hope endures and can continue forever. When we challenge a Mormon or any other person of “faith” regarding the validity of their belief system, I believe we are actually telling them that they may cease to exist following this life. This causes immense subconscious fear and pain and results in anger and retaliation against the individual confronting them for inducing this pain within them.
This is one reason I believe why it is so difficult to deal with Mormons in a logical manner regarding the reality of their faith. It is an emotional construct which supports and sustains them, not logic. And because Mormonism is a belief dependent upon fear, not just the fear of being incorrect but the ultimate fear that they may cease to be, they cling to the edifice of Mormonism with the tenacity of a threatened animal.
Often I have heard from fellow exmos as they try to figure out just what this life is all about and I believe at the essence of that question is, "will I continue to go on in some way or another after this life?" It is not comforting to leave the innocent embrace of ignorance and then be forced to stare the cold reality of truth in the eye. The uncertainty of purpose leaves one to one's own devices and thoughts as to what their existence means and what purpose they should pursue. Struggling for post-Mormon purpose is anything but easy, but it is a challenge we all must face head on.
I believe that there is something at our core which allowed us to question, to search to seek and find the way out of the Mormon maze. I don’t believe all Mormons possess this, but I do believe many can find their way out once personal mental permission is granted them. Many will say, “They will never leave! They are entrenched!” And I would argue that many of us thought the very same thing about ourselves, we would never leave it all behind. But then there comes a tipping point of mental pain which begins to outweigh the fear of annihilation which propels us forward toward a means of satiating our inner conflicts.
There are those who struggle for years with this mental pain, seeking out medication and behaviors which mask the symptoms all the while ignoring the source. All it takes for the first step of this satiating journey to begin is to ask the simple yet profound question, “What if?” And then we freely proclaim to ourselves, “Annihilation be damned, I want to know the truth.!”
| For years, I heard how Mormonism would reach dizzying new heights in culture. There would be a Mormon Rembrandt, a Mormon Monet, a Mormon DaVinci. There is no chance for a Mormon Rodin----he was banned from BYU. You can't win em all.
There would also be a Bach or two and some brilliant literature to add to the mix. There would be that Mormon Shakespeare, and the world would look at him in awe. Mormon Tolstoys would be a dime a dozen. You would find Herman Melville on every street. He would say "Call me Ishmael," and you would know who he was right away.
I really did hear this. IT WAS JUST A MATTER OF TIME.
I am nearly 60, and I have been waiting, sans baited breath, for the moment to arrive. It never did. Be still my heart.
I did watch the things that have come along over the years.
There was "Saturday's Warrior, " "My Turn on Earth," and God knows what else. I heard some of the music from them, but could not get myself to go.
I saw Mormon film come along , but did not make it to the movies. There was the "Book of Mormon Movie," which I heard about. I gather it never left the shores of the Great Salt Lake. There were others, including "The Work and the Glory," and "Return with Honor." I did not catch them. Maybe I should have. I just could not get myself to think about it. I don't go to that many movies, and Mormon fare was not on the list.
Then, there were all the Mormon books. I recall "Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites," and the endless volumes of "The Work and the Glory." There was a novel named "Charley," as I recall, and several attempts at Mormon romance .
The new thing is what one can call "Mormon Socialist Realism." This started with Arnold Frieberg, and his amazing "Book of Mormon" paintings. The men had arms as thick as tree trunks. An emaciated Abinidai confronts the evil King Noah. There were the "stripling warriors," and the king's sheep being defended by the fellow with the steel sword (his name eludes me).
Now, it has switched to Joseph Smith, and a new image of him. He is the fair haired boy, handsome to a fault, and so kind that butterflies land on his shoulders. He combs Emma's hair, frolicks with the lads, translates at the kitchen table, and rocks the babies to sleep. He is "Mr. Steel and Velvet," the perfect man painted large. He adorns calendars, and Desert Book stores. His visage is everywhere---and his reality is nowhere.
It is safe to say he did not exist, and the church would be better off if they dumped this cult of personality. Its kind of creepy on the good days, and there are not that many good days.
In fairness, I should not complain. What did I contribute? Nothing, of course.
But I still think about all the bragging I heard, and all the promise of great things to come. IT IS JUST A MATTER OF TIME.
Well, time slips by. We all get older and wiser, and we learn that there is a big difference between reality and dreams. So much of Mormonism is built on dreams. It all fades away, and the reality is not what we were told to anticipate.
Maybe it will come after we make that long walk to Missori. That must be the time. More patience is needed. After all, IT IS JUST A MATTER OF TIME.
| So, the Church PR department has released a commentary on this article in their newsroom section here: http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsro...
They are complaining about "the blatant, inappropriate editorializing by the Salt Lake Tribune in what was purported to be a news story". Riiiiight. I'm sure Peggy was lying about giving them the opportunity to comment on the story.
What can I say? The persecution card has worked well in the past, why not play it now? The air is ringing with TBM complaints about how the story is "one-sided". Umm, of course it is! Because the LDS Church declined to comment so they could cry "one-sided persecution" later. As someone who enjoys writing, but is not particularly creative, I'm thinking of applying for a job in the Church's PR department. I could just prepare a few different drafts addressing the persecution facing the poor (well, not financially) Church, and then just fill in the details later, when an unfavorable article comes out.
They also dropped another bombshell: guess what, no one has ever been asked to write to their senators requesting support for the Federal Moronic Amendment. They were careful to include the link to the specific letter read to the congregations, lest the truth about people given "assignments" in California comes back and kicks them in the crotch.
That's right, people: "In his Tribune letter-to-the-editor, Mr. Danzig said he “was troubled that my church requested I violate my own conscience to write in support of an amendment I feel is contrary to the constitution and to the gospel of Christ." In reality Church leaders had asked members to write to their senators with their personal views regarding the federal amendment opposing same gender marriage, and did not request support or opposition to the amendment."
And all you suckas wrote your senators demanding that them homos should not be treated like humans, no siree! Guess what, the Church never wanted you to do that at all!
Behold, my brethren (and sistren), it came to pass that it was sheer coincidence that the letter urging people to "express themselves" contained the position that the First Presidency is never tired of expressing concerning them evil homos.
Oh yeah, and when GBH said "How grateful, my brethren, I feel, how profoundly grateful for the tremendous faith of so many Latter-day Saints who, when facing a major decision on which the Church has taken a stand, align themselves with that position", it was probably his personal opinion or something. I mean, now that he's dead, it's okay to call the stuff he said personal opinion, right, kind of like Brigham's Adam-God doctrine? I didn't think the Church would discard his teachings so fast, but 'tis the last days, so the process must have been sped up.
What a joke. I dare you active Mormons to go read the Church's commentary on Sunday and then come back and let us know how many jaws dropped to the floor when people found out they were never asked to write to the senators that the marriage of a man and a woman (and, possibly, a few other "a woman"s) is the only acceptable marriage relationship.
The truth about members' questions is now ignored.
That's how their new campaign slogan goes, right?
| No ... NOT the Milk BEFORE meat kind of meat...but the kind of raw meat TBM's love...because it helps them believe that they are not a member of a cult but a persecuted, hated people and completely misunderstood in the world.
Yesterday I attended my wife's stake conference to hear the inspired words of the visiting GA, Richard Edgley, of the Mormon Presiding Bishopric…and I was not disappointed. Although, I did not take copious notes…I did want to share some of the bullet points of his message.
So more on Edgley's apostate friend. (If this friend posts here I'd love hear the real story…as Edgley edited it down to make a faith promoting story out of your loss of belief) His friend had served in various "high" callings in the church and through study of church history has come to the conclusion that the church and Joseph smith in particular is a fraud. When Edgley questioned his friend as to how he came to this conclusion his friend responded that Smith was a fraud because Smith never had any revelations that came true…so he was a fraud. (Edgeley's explanation seemed too simple)
- The General Authorities were NOT prepared for the level of anti Mormonism that erupted over the presidential run of "Elder" Mitt Romney (yeah he referred to him as Elder). So much for their ability to be Seers.
- He admitted that some of his personal friends have left the church. (More on this in a moment)
- He enjoys going out on the Conference Center Plaza during General Conference to see all the so-called anti-Mormon protesters with their "Joseph Lied" signs….it strengthens his testimony that the church is true. WTF?
- Church members have nothing to be ashamed of with church history or doctrine i.e., polygamy was specifically mentioned but nothing else.
- The church has NOTHING to apologize for... did you hear that one F.A.R.M.S.? This statement made my head snap!!
- The church is the most hated church in America…but the church is most hated in…drum roll please….UTAH (Hmmm…so add that to the list of other things that Utah leads the nation in such as anti-depressants use, youth suicide, white collar fraud, Pay-day Loans …quite an impressive résumé'.
Edgley, then proceeded to quote two of Smith's so called revelations, that in his opinion did come true, to counter his friends claims of Smith's fraud.
Regarding so-called prophecy #1: The account of Moroni was written in 1838….some 18 years after the event supposedly had taken place…Smith was already KNOWN in 1838 as a fraud ...one third of his original 12 had left the church, many more former members had apostatized, he was ALREADY receiving persecution for his secret polygamist practices' and land grab tactics in Missouri as well as Ohio…was it any stretch for him to declare that this trend of people pointing out HIS evil doings would continue?
- Moroni's declaration that Joseph Smith's name would be known for both good and evil throughout the word and…
- That Smith prophesied that the stone cut without hands would (the church) would fill the entire earth…
Regarding so-called prophecy #2: Even by being generous… using the Mormon Church's own membership numbers of 13 million…this represents the earth being filled to only .019% of its capacity. Imaging a very small droplet of water sitting in the bottom of a large glass…HOW, by anyone's standard of measurement, can this be claimed as FULFILLMENT of filling the "whole" earth? It's equivalent to my letting off a fart…and claiming that it's filled the earth. Yet claim away they do. Their claim of fulfillment of this so called revelation….stretches incredulity. And when you use actual active numbers of a generous 40% of that 13 million that percentage of filling drops to a mere .008% of world population capacity.
Despite Edgley's truth claims, Mormonism must stand up to the toughest of standards. It must explain away, too many things to list here…something that to date it refuses to or can not do…
But the TBM's ate it up…they love Raw Meat…
| You all remember the lessons: the mud in the cookie, the dirt in the pudding, whatever the teacher had handy before she came to class.
It was always some lesson on the music we listen to or the movies we watch or the people we spend time with (occasionally the used goods one to keep us from having sex or having a healthy mentality towards our own bodies. Can't have that). "This song only has one swear word." "This movie only has one nude scene" (I remember the Titanic lessons). "But my friend only drinks once in a while." "But I only let him touch my breast over the clothes."
God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. That was DRILLED into us, that a little sin makes it all bad. You don't want to eat pudding with just a little dirt in it. You can't eat around the bad parts. You can't close your eyes for that one scene. You can't ignore the swearwords or sexually explicit lyrics.
I had a lesson about an engaged couple who asked the bishop how far they could go without repenting. He said that is the wrong question, and a sign of their sin already. It's like asking how close can I get to the ground before I open my parachute.
There is too much at stake. Please, god, make me like Nephi where I quake even at the thought of sin. If I am close enough to the spirit, my physical body will reject the sight or thought of sin (like my stepmother who feels sick when she thinks about going against the church, or sees others around her--even nevermos--sinning. Talk about conditioning).
Sad thing is, the church taught us all how to get out. I can't eat around the bad parts of the church; the black and white thinking precludes that. Once I found out that the church lies about its history; once I discovered JS was a pedophile, an admitted, convicted fraud; once I saw the church's hypocrisy in action; once I studied the BoA and the lies throughout; once I saw how much of the historical record has been changed; once I learned how much history the church deems un-useful. The deceit, the breaking the law, the lying, the stretching the truth, the sexual crimes in polygamy, the fraud.
I cannot look upon the church with the least degree of allowance. I cannot close my eyes to the bad parts.
To me, the church is that licked cookie, that dirt-filled pudding that no one wants to eat (take that, you misogynistic, mind-warping cult!!! I just compared you to the sin worse than murder!).
| I was a person who was right, who was certain and confident in my positions. My world view was sanctioned by god, my political views were in step with my former faith, and my life was lived in the smug correctness of my life which convinced me of the correctness of my certainty. Whew.
Most of the decisions I have made in my life under this banner of certainty have proven to be false. Many of these decisions and choices were not made through logical thought or based on the preponderance of fact, but were rather based on the certainty that my ways were correct; did I mention I was certain of this?
History is replete with examples of people who were certain in their beliefs, so certain in fact that the shedding of blood was but a small price to pay for the advancement of their certainty.
The fanatics of September the eleventh were certain of their cause, of their belief in their god, and thousands paid the price with their lives for Islamic certainty. The crusades and Spanish Inquisition were led by those who were certain in their belief that these actions were right, valid and correct. The Nazi concentration camps now bear silent witness of the price of a nation’s certainty. On September 11, 1857, the bloody massacres of one hundred and twenty men, women and children were caused by Mormon settlers who were certain that their belief, god and world view were correct and justified the killing of these innocents.
Now these are examples in the extreme of what certainty can bring, but how often in our own lives due to our own personal certainties do we find ourselves casting away truth and knowledge so that we can remain certain in our beliefs? This is not something which solely applies to religious belief, but rather all aspects of our lives.
In my recent journeying, I have discovered that our desires for certainty and constancy in life are rooted in our desire to manage and control life by denying many of the truths and realities about this life and all that it contains, in particular death.
Sam Keen, the author of Fire in the Belly brings further insights to this challenge in his forward to The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker. He notes as follows: “As long as we stay obediently within the defense mechanisms of our personality, what Wilhelm Reich called “character armor” we feel safe and are able to pretend that the world is manageable. But the price we pay is high. We repress our bodies to purchase a soul that time cannot destroy; we sacrifice pleasure to buy immortality; we encapsulate ourselves to avoid death. And life escapes us while we huddle within the defended fortress of character.”
Sam’s words show what the price of certainty can bring, the sacrifice is high, and the price is ultimately to wither away without receiving that which we have paid the most to receive, that of certainty. No one wants to follow an uncertain leader or adhere to an uncertain creed, but I am convinced that only by embracing uncertainty can we actually move forward in realizing greater truths and knowledge. Only by releasing ourselves from our certainties are we truly able to discover more, not only about ourselves but about the glories of this life and all that surrounds us.
The great constancy of life is change of this one can be certain. There is nothing that we can do to avoid change. It comes suddenly at times, violently or quietly without initial perception, but change comes despite all of our best efforts to avoid or contain. In an attempt to maintain the illusion that we are in control, we convince ourselves through our certainty that our course is controllable, manageable, and constant, and through our certainties, the greatest mistakes in life are made.
Überzeugungen sind oft die gefährlichsten Feinde der Wahrheit. -Friedrich Nietzsche
| I have been wondering just what is important to the leaders of the Mormon church. It has me mystified.
I know there are some basic things they stress:
1) Word of Wisdom---this is stressed to the point where coffee drinkers are serious sinners, and those who drink alcohol are beyond all hope of salvation. Light a cigarette, and you are thrust into hell.
2) Tithing---always of paramount importance. Tithing shows obedience, builds temples, and lays the groundwork for malls. Tithing, carefully laundered, pays off a Mark Hoffman, and sends the brethren flitting about the globe. It helps fund BYU football and the plea for one earring.
3) Masturbation. This practice is in a class by itself. It has huge importance, and is still a major concern of church leaders. While not considered as serious as fornication (second only to murder), masturbation is at least as bad as armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Good heavens, how many 14 year old kids have to be tortured by the subject?
4) Malls. We know malls, or one mall in particular, has cosmic significance. The church is spending two billion dollars to build one. God knows it must be a sacred thing. Will you need a "Temple Recommend" to buy your Cartier watch?
5) Obedience. Nothing matters more. One simply must obey. You have to "follow the brethren" no matter what. If they tell you to jump off Mt. Olympus, you should join the line climbing to the top. And if they said to do just that, the line would form in a matter of minutes.
6) Image. God, is that ever important. Image. What would the church do without image? Think of the BYU Dress Code, the boring white shirts and name tags, the "modest length" of skirts, the short hair, and freshly scrubbed and polished look. Image---it is so terribly important. Millions have been spent to promote that image. Sadly, polygamy still trumps the PR.
7) Family. The church claims that family is important---no, family is everything. But they break families up all the time. God help the wayward family member who reads history, and finds out its a scam. God help the poor soul who cannot attend the wedding of a child, or the kids whose father or mother is always gone doing "church work." The church uses family as a handle, and then lets the bag its attached to drop.
8) Joseph Smith. One NEVER hears the last about Joseph Smith. He is terribly important. He towers over Christ, the human race, the Church Office Building, and all other earthly things. He even rivals the new mall. He is a giant, a huge an all important figure. He is constantly sold, polished, and upgraded. Now, he is the handsome hunk, walking home with an axe over his shoulder----a cross between Paul Bunyan and Brad Pitt. He is, at once, sexy, but chaste, kind, but fierce, loving but willing to fight. He is a stud. Oh to be like Joseph Smith.
9) The pioneer image. Hinckley loved this one. He wanted a new Mormonism, based on feel good platitudes and love of the pioneers. Handcarts and heroism, pioneers and platitudes. This stuff is vital to the new and improved church.
Members go to "Martin's Cove," and kids pull idiotic handcarts on their MIA outings. Dear God, lets celebrate the pioneers again. It has been minutes since the last celebration.
I am sure there are many others. I just cannot name them all.
Look at what has been cast aside. We don't hear about home gardens, "The Pearl of Great Price," Paul Dunn, the "New Testament," and kindness. They have no value.
| The LDS Church has evolved into a well organized corporation that is widely recognized by the general public because of it's past ties with polygamy, it's door to door knocking missionaries, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The majority of the world's population does not even know what a Mormon is but those who do consider it a weird cult.
Mormon Incorporated is a far cry from being a world recognized brand like Coca Cola, Mercedes Benz, Toyota, or McDonalds. The church claims to be worldwide and growing. This claim and a careful analysis into the actual situation may point us to who the actual customers of this religious corporation really are.
The church is worldwide but if you have had the opportunity to visit LDS church services around the world, they are usually a very small number of people unless you get into the higher density Mormon areas, especially the intermountain west area of the United States. Again, look at the church leadership. They all are mostly from the intermountain west of the US and mostly white. At the head, the church looks everything but international.
What is the symbolism of this brand? Well, the public relations BS says "We're international, growing, and bigger and better than ever!" The same yadda, yadda you get from most big corporations but what is real animal?
First of all the corporation loves it's history. At least the "Sanitized for you protection" version of it. Great expense and care has been used to beautify, modernize, and bring attention to every major and not so major LDS historical sites. Look at Palmyra, Look at Nauvoo. Even places like Far West, MO or Old Town San Diego have Mormon Monuments or visitors centers.
Look at the buildings the church builds. These are not cathedrals in any sense but there are a ton of them in Mormon infested areas and they are well maintained. The more visible buildings like temples or ones that appear on television show the signs that someone has a lot of money.
The church General Conference in the new Conference Center shouts, "We are huge and powerful!"
In my experience this is what gets the average Mormon off. They are part of something big and powerful and they get off on it big time. These people love to visit places like Nauvoo and Palmyra and view what the mighty and powerful modern church has done to these places that ran their ancestors out. Oh there's a key word ancestors.
Yup. Mormons are obessed with their heritage mainly because the church promotes it or even forces it with it's temple ordinance system. What becomes clear is the church isn't as concerned about selling itself to outsiders but keeping the insiders in. That is why there is a major focus on the church youth.
So this corporation's customers is it's own members and their offspring. It wants families and the whole system is to retain as many money producing members as it can. This is why the church put such a focus on education and it's private universities. The message being sent is: "We are big and powerful and you are part of it! Climb our ladder and you will become a God!" Mormon Inc. promotes from within. Not to mention is has company songs to sing and company activities to take up all your time. Awww but it's all worth it because the big golden Moroni is a symbol of success, power and you are a part of the organization that makes it work. So put on those SPECIAL garmets and wear them with pride!
| All of us have those moments when we realize that our cherished beliefs contradict what we know to be true. A believing Mormon has to believe that Doctrine and Covenants 77:6 is correct when it tells us that the earth will have only "seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence." But we know through science and hard evidence that the earth has been around much longer than 7,000 years, and those millions of years were not devoid of death. Most Mormons do one of two things: they reinterpret the facts or the scriptures to accommodate reality, or they simply compartmentalize, refusing to apply their knowledge and learning to matters of the spirit.
I think I did the former, for the most part. I understood, for example, that Church doctrine was incompatible with human evolution, even though there is ample evidence that we have evolved. I just put that item on the shelf and figured that either my understanding of evolution was flawed, or my interpretation of doctrine was. Either way, God created humans, however he had done it. I suspect that this kind of rationalizing goes on all the time in the church, as there are a lot of church claims and doctrines that do not conform to reality.
With the advent of the Internet, it's become quite easy to find information about church history and doctrine, and much of it is problematic. Take, for example, the Book of Abraham, which Joseph Smith claimed to have translated from some papyrus scrolls discovered with some mummies. We learn that Joseph's translation is completely wrong, and not only that, the church has known it was wrong since 1967. But unless you did your own research, you as a member would not have known that. You're left with two options: find some way to make it work, or just ignore it. Some apologists, like John Gee, have made valiant (if not always honest) attempts to make it work, but most of us just ignored it. I always figured that God would explain it later.
The problem comes when you realize that every single one of Mormonism's claims is in dispute as to whether it reflects reality. Mormonism makes a lot of claims about the history of the Americas, and when we attempt to verify them, they fall apart, just as the Book of Abraham does. No matter how you approach it, the job of reinterpreting or compartmentalizing is constant in Mormonism. I found out the hard way that it's very difficult to maintain that kind of rationalization indefinitely.
So, how is the church responding to these kinds of situations? Here's what current church president and prophet Thomas S. Monson has said about it:
"Remember that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other.
"Should doubt knock at your doorway, just say to those skeptical, disturbing, rebellious thoughts: 'I propose to stay with my faith, with the faith of my people. I know that happiness and contentment are there, and I forbid you, agnostic, doubting thoughts, to destroy the house of my faith. I acknowledge that I do not understand the processes of creation, but I accept the fact of it. I grant that I cannot explain the miracles of the Bible, and I do not attempt to do so, but I accept God’s word. I wasn’t with Joseph, but I believe him. My faith did not come to me through science, and I will not permit so-called science to destroy it'" (Thomas Monson, "The Lighthouse of the Lord:
A Message to the Youth of the Church," Ensign, February 2001).
What he's telling us is that we must willfully drive doubt from our minds before we ever get to a point at which we have to reinterpret or compartmentalize. Just will it away, and it will go away.
Years ago an episode of the Twilight Zone had a young boy who could read the minds of the people in his town. If they thought or did something he didn't like, he would turn them into grotesque monsters or giant toys, and then he would wish them away into a cornfield, where they couldn't disrupt his happy existence. This is what Monson is telling us to do: wish those evil thoughts of doubt and reason away into the cornfield of blissful ignorance.
How long do you think that's going to work?
| I remember when I was a TBM, especially as a child, thinking that any criticism was hateful. I remember hating sports because coaches always had constructive criticism. It wasn't that I couldn't take direction, but in church and at home, I was taught that any and all criticism came from hatred.
My parents always warned us about negative things such as 'bickering.' We were not allowed to argue at the dinner table, for example. For years, it was difficult to have a political conversation over lunch or dinner because so much of it is criticism of a party or a candidate. But where I work, there are some extremely bright people who love to talk politics at lunch.
Dinners are even better. With an expense account, and extremely bright colleagues and clients, we end up talking business and politics at dinner.
Any arguments in my social circle as a child were taken to mommy, a teacher, or if they happened at church to a priesthood authority. The person in charge would just shrug and say, "Why can't we all just get along?" And everybody would kiss and make up. There was no conflict resolution. No verbal skills were improved. Nobody learned to explain their position or interests. That's how conflicts were handled.
Leaders were sustained. If anybody dared question why somebody who was busted for tax evasion became bishop, or why the guy who was caught with a hooker was suddenly leading the choir. Any disagreement meant that you must hate and disrespect that person. That's what Mormon leaders wanted. They wanted sheep who would not ask questions. And they wanted people who, once they got through brainwashing, would continue to self-train and self-regulate. Criticism means you hate me.
I wonder how many other TBMs grew up like this. I know that most TBMs I've known fall to pieces when they meet any criticism at all. When I was a supervisor in a tech support outfit in Utah, the BYU students I supervised were either 1. so arrogant they didn't think they needed any help; or 2. so fragile they couldn't accept any help.
I would argue that this is why the more sheltered Mormons who see a site like this for the first time confuse criticism with hatred.
Look at their posts.
In response to pointing out that Joseph Smith was a fraud:
* Why are you so bitter?
In response to pointing out Joseph Smith's polygamy:
* Why don't you do something productive with your time instead of tearing down what others believe?
In response to questions into the Mormon church's financial dealings (multi-billion dollar mall bought without using tithing? Yeah right!)
* Why are you being so negative?
Any other public figure who has a sex scandal (pick a recent scandal) or a corporation that has shady financial dealings is open to scrutiny. Truth and justice are at stake. We need to ask the hard questions and find out if people are being honest. If we don't ask the hard questions, we never know what is really happening. Transparency reduces abuse, or at least makes it easier to expose.
Asking a politician if he had an affair is a fair question. Asking a corporation about it's financial dealings is a fair question. Asking the police if they followed procedure in getting a search warrant is a fair question. Why? Money, liberty, integrity - many things are at stake. People in power need to be questioned. If nobody is there to question them, the potential for abuse grows exponentially. We have shown over and over again that Mormon leaders have lied to their people, and we have shown over and over again how members are harmed by these lies - past and present. So why shouldn't we be allowed to ask questions about doctrine that is supposedly eternal, but that keeps changing in substance? Why shouldn't we be able to ask what happened to the phrase "white and delightsome" that used to be in the Book of Mormon? Why shouldn't we be able to ask what happened to the blood oaths? Why should we not ask about changes that have been quietly made, and how new generations of Mormons have no idea their churchnot only denied blacks the priesthood, they said that blacks were less worthy because they sat on the fence in the war in heaven?
Why is it that Mormons can't stand any questions about their church?
| I knew a deeply devoted Mormon who told me "I would like to have a copy of every Mormon book ever printed." I love books, but this was well beyond any form of reason.
If you look back at all the garbage the church has printed over the years, it boggles the mind. Every GA seems to think the world needs a collection of his speeches. Some love to see their names in print as purveyors of dogma, and go to huge efforts to publish. Bruce McConkie could not stop coming out with books. Joseph Fielding Smith was every bit as bad, or worse. And who can forget Spencer Kimball's monument to depression---"The Miracle of Forgiveness."
Some of these books really have been quite monstrous. "Man: His Origin and Destiny," "Mormon Doctrine," "The Miracle of Forgiveness," "Teach Ye Dilligently," "The Fate of the Persecutors of Joseph Smith," " Temples of the Most High," "Essentials in Church History," and Mark E. Peterson's "prophet series" were particularly bad.
Most of these are long out of print, and should be. But a few will never die. "Mormon Doctrine," and "The Miracle of Forgiveness" will last until the the end of Mormonism itself. Future generations will read them, and become depressed and despondent.
Some of the new books always amuse me. They reflect the Mormon fascination with being Mormon. There is a new book about U.S. Presidents and their relationship to the Mormon church. Mormons are only interested in U.S. Presidents if they are interested in Mormons. How anyone could care about what a President says to a visiting Mormon leader is beyond me. But Mormons want to be loved, and they want their nation's Presidents to love them.
I always got a laugh out of the Mormon novels. "Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites" was a real keeper. There were also Mormon romance novels, Mormon tear jerker novels, and Mormon kids' books.
I wonder how much of this has been profitable? Are there really that many of these books getting read? Some might buy them as gifts, but I doubt many are ever opened. They sit on book shelves in various homes, collect dust, and then end up at a yard sale, or in Desert Industries.
General Authorities die, and are quickly relegated to the bone yard. Their books, with a few particularly painful exceptions, are relegated to the yard sale. What a strange thing it is to watch, with its combined elements of vanity, greed, and self-importance.
| Mormonism teaches that this life is only a test to see whether you qualify for the super-wonderful life to come some day. With that type of thinking, this life and everything in it becomes a mine field to be navigated, to be survived -- endured (is there a word that more fittingly sums up Mormonism?) -- rather than a rich experience to be savored.
I thought of this as I read an article about what great chefs would choose as their last meal. For many, it wasn't so much about the food as it was the moment. One said he would want the meal to "embody the fact that I have lived a great life, full of rich experiences." Another chef didn't want to talk about a last meal. He said, "I talk about openings, not closings."
But Mormonism is intensely focused on the closing. Will you make it through the closing door? Will you be left outside weeping? Will you be forever sorry you chose to have "a great life, full of rich experiences" instead of sacrificing whatever is required (including unbelieving loved ones, or your mental health) for the sake of the Kingdom?
Though Mormonism claims to be about eternal life, it's actually about rejecting life. It's about walling yourself off from much of what life has to offer, because there's no time, no time, no time for smelling the flowers or watching the sunset because there's work to do, a test to pass.
The church markets itself as a family-loving institution but keeps inventing more ways to eat into your family time. Then it invents artificial family time obligations to make up for it. Unstructured, un-micromanaged free-form time spent enjoying each other? The horror!
Yes, some very faithful, very diligent Mormons do have happy lives. But many many more are just suffering through the exam, checking the right boxes, giving the rote answers and living in dread that they won't pass. And the church says, "Good for you, my faithful servants. Keep your shoulder to the wheel." Meanwhile, those who take less obsessive view, who ignore some of their church duties for the sake of something more enriching are condemned as slothful servants.
Because the LDS church isn't really about the happiness of its devotees. It's about maintaining the institution. You serve the church (that's part of the test), it doesn't serve you. What you want is only important if it happens to be exactly what the church wants. And what the church wants is for you to sacrifice all your time, talents and resources--even your life--to the building up of the Kingdom. The church wants a happy life for itself in the here and now. You? Well, you get your happy life later. After you die. You can hardly wait.
Then there's a thought from a different article about African-American film and TV producer Tyler Perry. I made some substitutions that make it relevant to Mormonism:
The resolution of each piece of work is grounded in simply having a stronger [Mormon] faith. But that message, while sold as an empowering populist articulation of the [LDS] experience, is ultimately not empowering at all. To the contrary, [Mormonism's] formula seems to call for more docility from [members], manipulating them to be more accepting of their [lives], and encouraging them to turn primarily to God to solve secular problems.
A parting quote from the last meal article:
[U]ltimately, it's not about death, it's about treasuring life and living it to the fullest.
| I watched the video Vahn mentioned at the end of his letter:
For those of you who don't know, John Dehlin's video is advice for TBM's on how to deal with exmormons, and hopefully keep them in the church (he's aware of pretty much all the problems, but is still a member).
At the beginning of it he says, "NOTHING I am going to mention in this video proves the Mormon church isn't true. At all."
I have somewhat of a visceral reaction to this, because I believe it's deceitful. Here's what I believe to be a good analogy:
Let's say a lot of people never stopped believing in the tooth fairy, and still believe as an adult. Let's also say I write a book debunking the tooth fairy. I do extensive research into the matter and I summarize in great detail the history of the tooth fairy. I am able to identify the origins of the myth with extensive quotes and historical documents. I investigate many first hand accounts of the tooth fairy and take a scientific approach, gather evidence (and the lack thereof).
Now, can I say in good conscience that NOTHING in my book disproves the tooth fairy? Because even with the overwhelming EVIDENCE of the history having a mythical basis, and the corresponding LACK of evidence to corroborate the existence of the tooth fairy, can I still say with 100% certainty that the tooth fairy hasn't ever existed anywhere in the universe? Nope, I can't. I can only assume this is the sort of thing John means when he says nothing in his video proves the Mormon church false. But to say nothing in my book disproves the tooth fairy is a LIE. It doesn't need to be 100%, it only needs to be show with a high enough probability that it becomes absurd to still believe in the tooth fairy.
The problems in Mormon history (including the ones John mentions in his video), are MORE THAN ENOUGH to cause any reasonable person to know with enough certainty to be false. If we require 100% certainty to not believe in something, then we'd all still be believing in Santa Claus.
To believe in the tooth fairy despite all evidence (and lack of evidence) presented, just because you still can't know with 100% certainty is patently ABSURD. Surely John must know this.
| This is a great day for all of humanity, the cause of freedom, peace and equality, and our nation and world as a whole. We have our first African American president-- Barack Obama! It is the start of a new and long awaited day.
Against this great and wonderful backdrop, it seems to me that it is also a time when the national influence of the LDS Church will wane.
First, the church has no significant insiders in the Obama administration.
Second, the only significant LDS democrat is Harry Reid who has pretty much ignored church leadership.
Third, the church blundered politically and from a PR standpoint in its opposition to Prop 8 in California and the fall out from this will be very long term.
Fourth, and maybe most importantly, our new president is much more visionary and inspiring than the leadership of the LDS church. (Who would you rather listen to -- Barrack Obama or Tommy Monson?) IMHO, the dearth of national leadership that our nation has suffered since JFK's death is over. The church had appeal because it filed this gap of vision and leadership for many people. But as time has passed the appeal of the church has declined. Leaders of the church have become more and more isolated and out of step with the challenges and lives that most people face.
IMHO, the small stone cut without hands will eventually stop rolling down the mountain and come to a final stop.
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