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EX-MORMONISM SECTION 16
A very large selection of posts made by those in recovery from Mormonism. Culled from throughout the Ex-Mormon Communities.
| What Does It Mean, To You, To Take Your Power Back From Mormonism In Your Exit Process From It's Mental, Emotional, Physical, Psychological, Spiritual Grasp? |
Monday, Mar 26, 2007, at 08:13 AM
Original Author(s): Susieq#1
Topic: EX-MORMONISM SECTION 16 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Many of us need to maintain some level of decent relationship with our Mormon family, loved ones and friends. In so doing, we become students in "taking your power back" and teaching the Mormons, in our lives, (home, family, work, school, etc.) how to treat us, how to "follow the prophet" and set new, unfamiliar boundaries. We become the teachers of their own religious doctrine. We become the ones that quote the old mantras: the 11th Article of Faith, and quoting their own prophet on how to treat others.
Somehow, when someone leaves the Mormon Church the members all too often forget everything thing they ever knew about how to be supportive, loving, caring, and too often turn into violently angry, aggressive, hateful humans on the war path trying to stamp out Satan.
They often engage in long letter writing about their "testimony" as if somehow, we never heard of Mormonism and need to be bombarded with their beliefs (which most of us taught!), filled with threats. Threats! Yes, dozens of threats! Even going so far as to engage in parental alienation to turn children against their own mother or father.
Outside of Mormonism, generally, few are aware of the highly invasive, boundary-less, nature of their culture, religion and society, with it's own language, own interpretation of "right and wrong" and it's unwritten rules for behaviors that are instilled in the "born in the bed" Mormon or convert from the very beginning. They are so subtle, so gently ingrained, so carefully imprinted that the process is not detected until it is complete and recognition occurs after the fact.
Some assume that leaving Mormonism just means you don't go anymore, you don't believe it anymore, and it is no big deal. Some might be able to "walk away" and never look back.
That may be true for a small number of former Mormons, but my observation, is that for the majority of Mormons who leave the Mormon Church it is a huge deal, a major decision with far reaching implications on familial, societal, cultural levels, not to mention careers, jobs, etc. Some loose everything: spouse, children, jobs, houses, careers, jobs. Some make a huge sacrifice just to.... leave the Mormon Church! It is unbelievable these things happen, and the members must work overtime to convince themselves and other members that those that leave are the enemy spreading all kinds of dastardly rumors about their supposed sin. Does not say much for Mormonism, does it?
What does it mean to take your power back and set new boundaries with Mormonism on all levels?
Something has to change drastically within our thinking as a Mormon becoming a former Mormon: you know the adage: change your thinking, change your world! Acceptable culture, religious,familial norms within the "in house" functioning of the religion in the family and church are no longer OK.
What was seen as "business as usual" within the Mormon church's religion and culture are now seen as completely unacceptable: invasive, silly, ridiculous, constrictive, controlling, authoritarian, opinionated, cruel, unfair, usurps common personal rights to privacy, and especially our physical body, and on and on.
When those things have been accepted as "the only true way" and are no longer accepted, it often takes overcoming some imprinted fears about what is going to happen and doing it anyway. In so doing, the ridiculous fears recounted by the members prove to be completely without merit and totally empty! They are no more than scaring a young child into being "nice" instead of "naughty" so Santa Claus will bring them a present.
Some wonder why anyone would write a letter to remove their name from their active rolls and resign their membership. Why do that, they wonder. I won't play their silly games, and jump through their hoops? They are irrelevant!
My observation is that when you take your power back, you are not jumping through hoops so much as you are empowering yourself to tell the Mormon Church to cease and desist. You are making them powerless in your life.
However, just because the letter is written, the confirmation received, is Mormonism erased from our lives? No, of course not. Would it be reasonable to think it will all magically go away and be as if we were never a Mormon? Again: no, of course not.
So, in the process of taking our power back from Mormonism's many tentacles in our thinking, behavior and lives, what actually happens? How do we maintain our equilibrium in this onslaught?
My question, (as always) is: why? Why do the Mormons treat us with such horrible contempt? Why do they repeat what they know we know? Why do they spread lies about us and on and on.
- What are your steps in that process?
- How have you set new boundaries?
- How have you taught the Mormons in your life how to treat you ?
- How have you taught them to "follow the prophet" and follow their own teachings?
What does all that say about how Mormonism is internalized by the typical member?
| In my view, many consequences for perceived sin in the Mormon church are not necessarily natural consequences, but manufactured consequences. Consequences created by a dangerous cultish religion and designed to keep the flock in line.
For example: premarital sex. Most people have sex before they’re married. Most of them do not have children out of wedlock or STD’s. There are multitudes of people who have safe premarital sex which does not result in any negative natural consequences, or at least none as damaging as the consequences manufactured by Mormonism. Also, masturbation. Who is naturally damaged by that and what are the negative natural consequences? I can’t think of any for either situation except the consequences manufactured for Mormons by their controlling religion and the guilt they manufacture themselves because of the indoctrination provided by numerous, dangerous lessons given to them in Mormon youth programs.
A non-Mormon girl who has safe sex her first year of college with her steady boyfriend, whom she loves, has practically no negative consequences for her behavior and in fact, may have positive benefits from the experience. A Mormon girl making the same choice of safe sex with her steady boyfriend, even once, has a multitude of negative consequences all brought upon her by the Mormon church alone, all of which are created to instill guilt and shame and exert control over every aspect of her life. She will feel a tremendous sense of guilt and shame, all caused by her Mormon conditioning and the Licked Cupcake, crushed rose, chewed gum lessons she had in Young Women’s. She will have to go to a Bishop, possibly whom she barely knows, and confess the intimate details of her sexual experience and then be disciplined in spite of her already overwhelming sense of guilt and failure. Most likely, she will be unable to partake of the sacrament, the symbol of the atonement, of which the Mormon church has taught her she’sso desperately in need. Ironically, the person most in need of forgiveness is denied the very symbols of it.
Make no mistake, I’m not advocating irresponsible sexual activity and believe youth need to be taught the possible negative consequences of their actions. Those teachings should in no way be demeaning and damaging illustrations of loss of worth portrayed by the Licked Cupcake lesson. They should include the wonderful benefits and emotional attachments created by a healthy sexual relationship between two people who love one another. They should not instill guilt or shame on youth who have already chosen to become sexually active. Youngsters should be aware of all the physical aspects of sex and the possible emotional and physical risks and be left to make their own informed decisions, free from guilt or manufactured consequences dreamed up by controlling religious demigods.
For those who believe, for religious reasons, that premarital sex is a sin, all teachings concerning sex should be tempered by a message of complete love and acceptance and forgiveness by a God who can be approached in prayer, in private, and can forgive in private, also. No embarrassing Bishop’s confessions necessary. No barring from the very symbols of the atonement which alone provides the forgiveness necessary for many religious people.
Mormonism manufactures consequences where there naturally may not be any and acts as an injured party that must grant forgiveness although there may in actuality be no injured party at all! If there were injured parties, the church certainly wouldn't be one of them. If by chance, there are natural consequences and injured parties, the church doesn't console and forgive. They heap more guilt and shame on top of what is already being experienced by the suffering sinner. In many instances Mormons manufacture guilt where they should experience none. They're trained to believe they'll never be good enough. There's rarely a good Mormon who doesn't feel a healthy dose of guilt for something. Mormonism is a vicious and punitive religious system which is best fled in the manner one would flee a burning building. It’s that damaging.
| For all of my adult life, I knew that Mormonism had a lot of skeletons in the closet. My college ward was in a liberal part of the country in terms of geography and on the slightly unorthodox, progressive end of the spectrum in terms of Mormon culture. In Institute and Sunday School classes, we talked openly about how the Book of Mormon clashed with science and archeology. We had firesides where the speakers discussed things like B.H. Roberts' comparison between the Book of Mormon and
View of the Hebrews.'
I knew there were issues, but I didn't know the details or the full extent. I didn't really think I needed to know. My conviction that it was all true was based on what I believed was a spiritual witness, repeated multiple times in a variety of contexts and situations. Basically, it was a collection of experiences and feelings I had had over the years, and I interpreted them all as being mutually corroborative.
My journey out of Mormonism was the result of many years of experience, but the actual trip across the Belief Line - from having a firm conviction that it was all divine truth to being even more certain that it was all a human fabrication - happened really fast. Literally in a matter of days, I went from one side of the line to the other. For a few weeks previous, I could see myself hurtling toward that line. I was scared, because I had been conditioned from a very young age to believe that "losing my testimony" was one of the worst things that could ever happen to me.
The RfM board was a big influence throughout the process. I had been reading it with increased frequency for a couple of months. What was most helpful to me wasn't all the rehashing of the unpleasant facts about Joseph Smith. The volume and degree were disturbing, but not inconsistent with what I already knew. Besides, as long as I felt I had a spiritual witness, they could always be overridden. What was most helpful to me about the RfM board was seeing number of people who were going through various stages of the same process and realizing that many of them landed here as a result of an honest and sincere personal quest for truth and meaning. I had to respect that.
So, as part of my own process, I decided to do some reading, to see if it might help me articulate some things that I was thinking and feeling. Two of the books that were highly recommended here were Thomas Paine's 'The Age of Reason' and Carl Sagan's 'The Demon-Haunted World.' I was still a believer and still somewhat averse to reading any material in which the obvious primary agenda was to dissuade someone from believing in Mormonism. Those two titles seemed safe, or at least easy to rationalize.
Thomas Paine was a key figure in the American Revolution. His eloquence in writing helped make the case for independence with his famous pamphlet, 'Common Sense.' Later, he put his pen to work to raise money for a cash-strapped, desperate Continental Army. It's not much of a stretch to say that the United States may not have come into existence without this man. Surely I wouldn't offend God by reading something Paine wrote. DandC 88 commanded me to seek wisdom "out of the best books," and Thomas Paine had to qualify. On top of that, the book in question was written more than a decade before Joseph Smith was born, so it can't be labled as anti-Mormon.
Carl Sagan was one of the most respected scientists of my lifetime. I had admired his work for as long as I had been aware of who he was. I remembered reading an interview many years ago in which the journalist asked Dr. Sagan about the existence of extra-terrestrial life. In his response, he argued for "a tolerance for ambiguity." He said that we don't have to conclude. It's the same idea he incorporated into his novel, 'Contact,' which became a 1997 movie starring Jodie Foster. I loved the way the movie ended. A group of school children are visiting the SETI antenna array in New Mexico and have a short question and answer session with Jodie Foster's character, Ellie Arroway. One of the children asks her if there are people on other planets. Dr. Arroway responds, "That's a good question. What do you think?"
The child says, "I don't know."
Ellie says, "That's a good answer."
As much as I had always respected Sagan, however, and as much sense as that kind of thinking made to me, I had never really allowed it into my religious thinking. I knew what I knew, so a tolerance for ambiguity was irrelevant. Still, I had a great respect for Carl Sagan, so I was more than open to the idea of reading a book that was mainly focused on the merits of science and rationalism.
I didn't make it very far into either of those books before I realized that my world was turning upside-down. Paine utterly eviscerated the Bible, using nothing more than the Bible itself to do it. More than that, he attacked the central Christian doctrine of redemption or atonement and pointed out the glaring fallacy in the way it had always been explained to me. Specifically, he showed how all of the analogies we are given are examples of pecuniary justice, which is critically different from moral justice. In pecuniary justice, someone else can pay the money. As long as the debt is settled and the party to whom the money is owed is paid, justice has been done. Moral justice is a different thing altogether. As Paine so eloquently pointed out, to cause the suffering or death of an innocent third-party because of some crime I have committed is not justice at all. It is indiscriminate revenge.
Sagan helped me understand the nature of belief, especially the way our social interactions can influence it. His chapter about the invisible dragon in the garage sounded so eerily close to testimony meeting and the sharing of faith-promoting rumors that it made me a bit nauseous. His basic premise that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence made so much sense to me. Once I was able to really examine my own beliefs while trying not to be invested in any one particular conclusion, I came to realize that all of the experiences and feelings on which I had based my convictions were highly ambiguous at best, were not at all mutually corroborative, and were largely indistinguishable from so many other feelings and experiences I had had that were totally disconnected from religion or even opposed to it.
By the time I finished reading those two books, I didn't need to read Grant Palmer's 'An Insider's View of Mormon Origins.' I was already generally aware of much of his content, but it didn't matter much anymore. The fact that there were all kinds of inconsistencies, deceptions and self-serving motives connected with the founding of the Mormon Church was a secondary thing. I suppose they all proved that Mormonism wasn't true, but I already knew it wasn't true because it couldn't be true. Everything upstream from Mormonism was false. All of the assumptions on which it bases its claims were bogus. Skeletons in the closet were no surprise. They were to be expected.
I don't remember exactly when I purchase my copy of Palmer's book. It may have come in the same Amazon box as Paine and Sagan. I think my wife, Dr. Mujun, may have picked it up a few times, but it has mostly sat on the shelf, in much better condition than the other two books, which I have loaned out several times each.
Thus spake Mujun.
| I recall taking a World Religions class at BYU, and hearing about the extremely orthodox Hindus who sweep the ground in front of them as they walk--out of fear they might crush an ant.
Oh how funny it all seemed. What a bunch of fanatics. It was so funny to think of the things people do for a false religion.
Looking back after many years, I realized I was in an ant sweeping society myself. Mormons did not suffer from any great respect for life (look how many Priesthood activities involved "hunting" rabbits). But Mormons swept ants in their own way.
I recall being on my mission, and flying to Hawaii. The stewardess knew we were Mormon nut cases, so she offered us a fruit drink, which was alcohol free. I took one, and was sharply rebuked---"People seeing that drink in your hand might think its alcohol."
I heard a radio show where a man phoned in, and mentioned he had seen Mormon missionaries in the airport. They were thirsty, and there was a bar near them. But they argued about going in, and getting a drink. "Someone might think they were drinking alcohol." The caller could not hide his contempt for such stupid behavior on the part of the Mormons.
I recall the complete idiocy of BYU. Movies had to be previewed, and censored . The freshman health class text was removed, because it dealt objectively with masturbation. Hair length was carefully monitored. The girls wore those awful "granny dresses," and could not wear jeans.
There was more. Much more.
Bishops asked some kids if they drank Coke. Other bishops asked married couples if they "engaged in oral sex." Students in some wards were in trouble if they saw an "R rated" movie.
BYU Security used to travel to bars in Salt Lake, and look for BYU parking stickers. They would write down the sticker number, and stick it to the kid the next week. This, I gather, was "going the extra mile."
Years after I left BYU, I heard that Rodin had been banished from an art exhibit. "Schindler's List" could not be shown, because Steven Spielberg would not allow BYU to clip out the nude scenes. Concerts students would want to go to were switched with the safe, but bland ,Andy Williams.
Mormons, too, sweep ants. The Hindus hardly have a lock on fanaticism. I look back on my years in the Mormon cult, and marvel at how ludicrous and fanatical it really was. Dietary habits were taken as a sign of righteousness, personal matters were questioned and pried open, conduct, dress, and thought were regulated. If you want to see Mormonism in practice, go to BYU. There, you will get a look at what it would be like if it could control more. Mormons love to take away freedoms, choice, and free thought. They itch for the chance to control everyone.
Sweeping ants makes more sense than Mormon idiocy.
| Reading another thread, I was reminded of a silly priesthood rule.
My dad always taught me to have the utmost respect for women. I never dared to say a bad word concerning my mother or sister, and I was taught at a young age to hold doors open for women, pull out chairs for them, etc. My father demanded that I treat women with respect and dignity.
However, if my father was driving down the road and happened to come across a female member of the ward, he was not allowed to pick her up and give her a ride, unless of course my mom was in the car with him. Even if it was raining or snowing and there wasn't a service station for miles, my priesthood-holding dad was not supposed to drive alone with any females, without my mother present. He explained that two people of the opposite sex, alone in a car, created an "appearance of evil." It was actually for the benefit of the woman, my dad explained, as rumors or innuendo that might develop if someone actually saw the opposite sex sharing a ride, would surely damage that woman's reputation, supposedly more than that of the man. They're riding in a car you jackasses, not having sex. My dad was always very careful never to enter the home of a woman whose husband was not present, even when I accompanied him on home teaching assignments.
It's ridiculous how the Morg makes its members feel like little children. They require two adults of the opposite sex to have a chaperone for something as simple as a car ride. This stupid rule perpetuates this Morg undertone that men are ruled by their penises and can't control themselves. It also reinforces that subtle lesson in the LDS church that women are temptresses and can't be trusted. This rule forces members to doubt their own conscience and judgement, making members feel like they can't trust themselves. My dad, who constantly taught me the importance of being a gentleman and the value of treating women with respect, was banned from giving a lift to a stranded female motorist or entering the home of a woman unaccompanied. What a crock of shit.
In the end, the Morg gets what they want: members who replace their own conscience, judgement, values and reasoning with that of the LDS church. Good little Morgbots!
| For me (and perhaps other ex-Mormons), one of the pleasant and unexpected results of leaving the LDS Church (and clearing out the unhealthy and wounding 'programming' of Mormonism) has been the 'resurrection' of my creativity. How about you?
As a child, I liked to draw, build things with Lego and Meccano, play with my GI Joe, Johnny West, and Verti-Bird, and read The Wonderful World of Knowledge Books in our basement (over and over!). My sisters and I and the boys next door (their parents were raising them in Catholicism) played outside a lot, where we built snow forts, explored the neighborhood on our bikes, spent time in the small tree fort that the boys' father had built for them, and had as many 'adventures' as we could dream up. As I think back on those years, I marvel at how naturally creative we were.
I never consciously realized until a number of years after I terminated my membership in the LDS Church just how insidiously Mormon 'programming' had reduced my creativity during my formative and young adult years. Part of the problem was regularly being subjected to the mind-numbing monotony of the same scriptures, hymns, prayers, church talks, 'Sunday' attire, etc. Exacerbating the problem was the polarized mindset of the Mormon collective (black-and-white thinking is a symptom of religious addiction). In Mormonism, only a little individuality was tolerated, and there was always plenty of fear and guilt if you 'strayed' from 'the straight and narrow' (even in one's thinking).
As far as artistic expression among Mormons was concerned, LDS women were generally more creative and artistically 'evolved' than Mormon men, but Mormonism still psychologically restricted people quite a bit. As I've reflected on my quarter century in the church, I've asked myself a number of times, "Where was Mormons' unique creativity?" I'm of the strong opinion that to a significant degree, it was 'buried', at least generally.
However, to be fair to Mormons a few really creative episodes stand out in my mind. Like the time the youth and the teachers/leaders in our ward put on a big Halloween party. Everybody came in costume, some of which were very well done. Marco, an adult convert to the church from Peru who attended our ward, played the violin wonderfully (he learned to play before joining the church), and put his 'soul' into his playing. Thankfully, he stayed away from church hymns, and played a variety of classical pieces that were wonderful to listen to. Mary, another adult convert, sang beautifully, and she wasn't afraid to perform, when she could, non-LDS songs.
Talent shows were the biggest displays of creativity in our stake, but the plays or acts were usually pretty stale. However, occasionally someone would be feeling a bit 'gentile' and do something that made people in the audience sit up and take notice. Like the time a bishop of one of the wards dressed up like a '50's rocker and came on stage looking like a cross between Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. As he belted out some great rock songs and gyrated around on stage, everyone in the audience was puzzled about the identity of the mystery performer. When members found out that it had been Bishop R., many of them were incredulous (he had a General Authority- monotone speaking voice and phlegmatic personality). A wildly creative guy had been unleashed for a short time!
Since leaving the church, I've enjoyed exploring my creativity (I write, do photography, sing in a world music choir, and engage in other creative pursuits). How about you? How do you express your creativity? Have things changed for you much as an ex-Mormon in terms of your creative interests?
| My husband and I married over twenty years ago. When we met, he was married to an italian woman. They had seperated. She was in Washington and he was in Utah. They had only been married for a few years and basically she decided that she didn't like him all that much. They stayed married so she could earn her citizenship. (I guess you have to be married for a certain amount of time for that to happen.)
So we met fell in love. We also fell into bed. My husband sent numerous letters to his then wife, stating they needed to divorce. Eventually it happened.
But, then we wanted to be married. I found out that his church demanded a repentance of his adultery. So we spent out first year "repenting", basically not having a calling and not taking the sacrament. Upon the years end we were declared "repented" and "forgiven"
At least that is what I thought.
Just recently I fell ill. I was out of church for a month. Since my husband and I teach a primary class, he taught it alone. This isn't uncommon. Many other people in the ward do this. One couple even takes turns each week teaching their class. But, when the new primary presidency came in, the president said that he needed to have someone else in the room with him.
So a person was sent to sit in my husband's class and watch over him.
I thought this was odd. My husband just said, "oh its the new policy" I accepted that.
Then he was sitting back last night sort of thoughtful, but he didn't want to tell me what he was thinking about. Finally, he said that in our old ward (we have had several) that the elder's quorum president asked him if he was being faithful to me. and that when he answered in the affirmative, he was praised for his turn around.
I had always, wondered why whenever we moved it would take a full year before we would receive callings. Here is why.
He was told not to tell me this but....
Apparently when he was "forgiven" of his sin of adultery a mark was put on his record. Its there so that no matter where he goes the leadership can know what he has done and not place him in a calling or situation where he could cause a problem. Basically its CYA for the church. Reguardless of the circumstances or how long ago it happened he is always labeled an adulterer.
Tears welled up in his eyes when he told me about the mark on his record. He is supposedly forgiven, but they will always treat him as if he is going to fondle little boys or rape the young women. To me this is not forgiveness. I remember a talk in general conference last year where the speaker was condemning those who say they forgive but will never forget. Yet again, the church isn't following its own advice.
I don't know who knows about my husband's transgression. I don't know what the mark says. Is it adultery? or sexual sin? or damn pervert? I wish my husband would understand that there are church's out there that do not treat people this way and that this church shouldn't be treating him this way.
But, he believes that they are the only one's with authority and that its the only true church. So he suffers. He goes to temple and tries to "work through" his pain in this.
| Just witnessing the deception and the harm the church does to loved ones and best friends is enough to be angry.
It beeps me off that I see the lives of unhappy friends who cannot get out. They actually want to leave but they've fallen prey to emotional slavery and that is an undeniable form of human oppression.
I hear people in the church ask, "Why do you attack us? Why do you care that people choose to be LDS? Let people do what makes them happy and let us be!" The truth is that Mormonism is a trap of human oppression and when your loved ones and dearly loved friends become ensnared and they cry out, they suffer and they begin to mentally and physically self-destruct, you realize it is not a religion of choice after the initial stages.
A cult snatches the mind of members and takes over. That is what makes everyone here angry and what makes me wish to speak out against this form of human oppression. Not everyone wishes to be free from Mormonism and some may be totally fulfilled, but those who question teachings and wish to seek the truth, should be able to assert this freedom. Mormonism becomes spritual persecution to those who wish to leave once they are a part of it. That is when rights are violated and people suffer the most.
That's my biggest beef with it.
| On December 15, 2005, Wine Country Girl started a thread titled “The Truman Show” in which she drew parallels between The Truman Show and the Mormon Church. I doubt that she had any idea what effect this simple, innocuous thread might have on someone else.
It showed up just before the Holiday Season (read: tithing settlement) when our six children were home for Christmas break. A couple of days after Christmas my wife asked me what were we going to do about tithing and I told her that I had already figured it out, based on INCREASE, and had dropped it on the Bishop’s desk on Sunday. I knew that we weren’t going to get by just yet by paying nothing at all.
She then asked about tithing settlement and if I had made an appointment to REPORT to the Bishop. Which was understood to go as a family with all the kids. Five of them were attending different university wards in various cities and weren’t responsible to the locals anyway. I told her that if felt she needed to report to the bishop then she was welcome to set up an appointment and go and the kids could set up their own appointments. But there was no circumstance under which I would ever participate in tithing settlement again. I also reminded her that we had not gone the previous year and that was while I was still in the bishopric (I had been released several months prior during a change of Bishops).
This of course opened up once again the discussion about my own status vis a vis the church. Although I had been quite open with where I stood, she would often close down any discussion before it got too deep so as to avoid to much faith challenging information. She started out by suggesting I was failing our children by not setting a good example of a priesthood holder and living up to my responsibilities to attend tithing settlement as well as temple attendance, blessings, and my often critical attitude toward the church and the leaders. I answered her with the same responses I had used before to defend my position with the church.
This time however, I went farther by telling her that most of our children were farther along this path of knowing the history of the church and that I was bringing up the rear patiently waiting for her to catch up with the rest of us. I also told her that she should not expect that all of our children would marry in or attend the temple. She could not believe this, as three of the kids are return missionaries and all have lead their lives completely devoted to the church. She thought that I was misguided and going though a stage and just projecting my own views onto them or worse, trying to deconvert them.
The conversation ended with her shaken, crying, frightened, confused and a little angry. She got ready, put on a brave face and went downstairs to try and enjoy the day with the family. During the day, every time I happened to catch her eye she would break down.
Later in the day while I was in the office she came in and closed the door. She had collected her thoughts and returned to confront me once again. It was mostly the same thing over again only this time she was a bit more forceful and a bit more angry. [Note: we have enjoyed a truly great relationship and this one of the very few rough spots we have ever had in our nearly 30 years]
I finally said, “Look, there is something I would like you to read and then maybe you can understand where I’m coming from”. She agreed and I turned her around in her chair to face the computer. I brought up the Recovery Board and quickly found the post by WCG on The Truman Show. She was obviously disgusted about having to read something off this site but read the entire thread. When she finished she said, “So, people create their own reality. What’s your point?”. It was obvious that she had missed my point.
I told her that there was one post in particular that I wanted her to read and I clicked on it. It was a post titled “My ‘crashing into the sky moment’”. [In reference to Truman crashing into the sky (reality) with his boat].
My “crashing into the sky moment” was when I read One Nation Under Gods. My brother was reading it and I was avoiding it like the plague because I knew it wasn't faith-promoting. I finally succumbed to the temptation and started reading it when he wasn't looking.When I got to the point about Harris' description of the translation process and how the sentence had to be written down perfectly before a new one would appear, I finally "crashed into the sky". It was a really sad moment at the time, but I wouldn't exchange that moment for anything (except maybe being born outside of the church) I finally had to admit I was only deceiving myself, and could never believe again.(
When she finished reading this paragraph she turned to me and said, “So what, people create their own metaphors for their own reality”. It was clear that she had once again missed my point. As I looked at the sadness, fear and hurt in her face I really started to doubt whether I should proceed with what I was about to do. I knew that in the next few seconds I would alter the course of her life.
I reached out and took the mouse and slid it across the desk. As the movement of the cursor caught her eye she followed it across the screen. As the mouse pointer came to rest on the poster’s name she covered her mouth with her hand and gasped and then started to sob . She realized the point I had been trying to make when she recognized the poster as our most recently returned, and most devoutly TBM, missionary son. He had posted under his real name. She had no idea.
My dear wife was crushed and devastated. It was awful to watch. Up to this point there had been no way to really covey to her what had happened to our family in a way she would accept. Later when she was finally able to look at me again, she asked me how long I had known about this.
I told her that [son] had called me several weeks earlier and told me that his student ward bishop had called him in to see if they could give him a calling in the ward. He told the bishop that he would be happy to help out but could not accept any position that would require a testimony. When the surprised bishop asked why he told him that he knew the truth about the church and it’s history. When the bishop pressed him about any potential ‘worthiness problems’ he responded that that was not an issue. He simply did not believe any more. He made his final point with the bishop by taking his temple recommend out of his pocket and handing it to the bishop. He went home and wadded up his garments with his testimony and took them out to the refuse bin.
A butterfly fluttered in California and created a hurricane where we live. We survived the first phase of the storm and are sitting in the calm of the eye, waiting for the rest of the storm to pass when we have to deal with large and extremely TBM extended family. Better batten down the hatches, this is now my wife’s greatest fear.
| This is a short story that illustrates the effectiveness of Grant Palmer's "An Insider's View of Mormon Origins"
I purchased my copy directly from Deseret Books. I took the receipt (from DesBooks) and taped it inside the cover. I then took the color-copied pages (including the reviews) from their website and entered it inside the other cover.
I was in the Bishopric at the time my son came home from a less-than-faith-promoting-experience mission. He took a job that allowed us to travel together and before we left home he was looking for some reading material. He is a very avid reader. He went to our bookcase and bypassed all the Hugh Nibley, Daniel Peterson, John Sorensen stuff that he was already familiar with and picked four: Mormon America, An Insider's View of Mormon Origins, In Sacred Loneliness and Emma Hale Smith:Mormon Enigma. The latter two were checked out from the library.
I was driving when he started reading AIVoMO and he was totally engaged. Several times he would stop and just stare off into the distance contemplating what he had read. Other times he would come across something and say "Did you know this?" or "Can you believe this?" or some other such comment. I think he was surprised that I was familiar with the subject matter and that I was able to provide historical background and some context to what was in the book.For the most part I just confirmed that what he was reading was correct history.
Before he left on his mission he and I had taken a very keen interest in all things related to apologetics and had developed a serious study of FARMS materiel particularly the archeology of the BOM in Arabia as well as the New World. He was very familiar with Nahom, Wadi Sayq (Bountiful), Nibley, Peterson, and Sorensen et al. He had taken particular interest in Egyptology and its relation to the BoA.
However, he finished reading AIVoMO with very little interruption and without any opinions from me to push his own thinking one way or the other. I felt for him because what I had taken nearly two years to digest was download on him in a matter of 4 or 5 hours. He had been home from his mission for only a couple of months.
In any event, I will never forget his reaction when finally concluded the book. He closed it firmly, looked up and stared out the window for a few moments and then, without changing his gaze said, "It was a clever hoax wasn't it?"
I let a few minutes pass for it all to sink in and then asked him how he felt to be exposed to all of this. He said, "Dad, I need to know this." after a few more minutes passed, he corrected himself and said "Dad, I HAVE to know if I am expected to spend the rest of my life committed to something like this. I am the type of person that has just got to know"
It was tough to see him have to adjust to this but, he began (very much according to character) another intense study of church history along a new path. He has developed an impressive knowledge of the issues in the two years since this took place. He has helped to gently guide his Mom and siblings along a path to where the whole family (at varying degrees) is now by and large familiar with the problems so often dealt with here.
| I may not be a Mormon any longer, but there's no lack of burning in my bosom. The things that set me aflame are different now than they used to be. I no longer bear my testimony, read the Book of Mormon, visit teach or do many of the things that formerly caused me to believe I felt the spirit. The interesting thing is that I now feel as much "spirit" as I ever felt before - but now I feel it in new ways. As a Mormon I never allowed myself to be more moved by music than the gospel, or by nature than Sacrament Meeting, but now that I've freed myself from the restrictive structure of the church, I've become more open to other moving experiences which are more powerful than those I ever had before.
As an exmo, I was more moved by Cinderella's castle in Disney World than I ever was an LDS temple and by the crashing waves off Pt. Loma than I ever was by any tearfully shared testimony. The deserts of New Mexico, the mountains of Telluride, the Library of Congress, music of all kinds, and even the honeysuckle in my backyard with it's dancing, buzzing bees make me happier and fill me with more spirit than "the one true gospel" ever did.
If I take the time to slow down and feel garden dirt in my hands, smell my little Annie's sweet blond hair, listen to Courtney and Madeline singing duets in their room while they think no one's listening and watch Tom and Chloe cuddled up sleeping in the navy leather recliner in the living room on Sunday afternoon - then I can feel the spirit every day about things that are real and true and worthwhile, instead of the fake, unimportant trappings of Mormonism. I can still feel that warm fullness in my chest - no church necessary.
| I was raised to be obedient, to have faith and not to make waves (unless in defense of the faith). I was raised to be positive and uplifting, to be cooperative, to defer to male authority always, and to "respect" authority in general (in other words, never do anything that could possibly make anyone over you look stupid).
I was raised to keep my doubts to myself, or discuss them privately, and sort it out personally, through study and prayer. I was taught that if something didn't make sense it wasn't because it was wrong, it was because I didn't understand it- possibly because I was too proud.
Of course, these lessons weren’t taught overtly, but they were taught through experience and reinforced time and time again and I learned them all too well.
Because I spent most of my life doubting myself, doubting my ability to reason, and knowing that the default answer is almost always "I'm wrong no matter what", I have always had a hard time speaking up and questioning, in almost every arena. I had a hard time in Sunday School, I have a hard time in an academic setting, and I always had a hard time expressing objections in a business setting.
Today I made a HUGE leap from my usual programmed response.
I called a professor out on a bad argument with completely invalid logical structure. I stated my objection respectfully and clearly- and he was totally dismissive. In the interest of clarity, and understanding, I decided not to let it go. I called him out on a subsequent related issue and he started to get flustered. We haggled over the distinction between two terms that he didn't seem to understand. I was charitable, and polite, but didn’t back down. It was tense,and uncomfortable. Finally, another student backed me up. Then the professor tried to deflect attention by throwing out a few red herrings (I mercifully refrained from calling him out on those) and became so increasingly flustered that he just quit class and sent us home quite early.
I know intellectually that I shouldn't feel bad. It was the right thing to do because without it, he would be testing and grading us on a bunch of crap he clearly didn't understand.
I’m in an awkward position now. I’m right sometimes when other people are wrong. I’m having a hard time dealing with it. I don’t know how to act or what to feel. I’m in the middle of all these mixed emotions, picking and choosing between them. I feel terrible. I’m sorry I humiliated a professor, and made myself look like a know-it-all bitch. I feel some heavy automatic guilt. But at the same time I feel this intense sense of accomplishment and confidence to know that I had to guts to stand up to an authority figure and demand intellectual accountability.
Being free is weird, and complicated, but I'm getting better at it all the time.
| I'm not kidding.
I was one of those persons who took that scriptural admonition to heart. During my 17 years of hard-core Mormonism, my thoughts were a constant conversation with "Heavenly Father." I prayed about every damn thing . . . "please help me get to my appointment on time, please don't let me run out of gas, please God help that poor (insert name of: relative, neighbor, friend, celebrity, church leader, stranger on the street, animal, victim in the ambulance, soldier in the newspaper, widow on TV), please God grant me patience -- help me not to smack that kid across the room." Ad nauseum. ALL DAY LONG.
In my mind I was in a constant cosmic battle between good and evil and I was a key player. I was constantly "talking strategy" with God, planning my next move, my next dodge of Satan. My thoughts were consumed with pleas to a Heavenly Being to protect me from evil and help me overcome my weaknesses.
I would drop to my knees in an instant whenever something went wrong. Any crisis, major or minor, would send me to my knees for lengthy, heartfelt, verbose, intense prayer sessions which engulfed my consciousness. I even had my kids doing it. I'd get a call from my husband at work saying he was having a bad day. Right away, I would round up all the kids, no matter what they were doing, and we would have an emergency family meeting to pray for daddy. We'd all drop to our knees in a circle in the living room and we would pray. EACH. ONE. OF. US. It took a looooong time with a big family. A lot of concentration and mental enery went into those prayer sessions. We would literally call on angels and seek divine intervention when my husband was having a work crisis.
I don't think my obsessive-compulsive praying and constant "chatter" with God was unique to me -- I think it was a syndrome (a mental illness?) that resulted directly from LDS indoctrination. Very cultish.
So my question to you RfMers is this: "What do you think about now that you don't pray all the time?"
After I stopped praying, I became obsessed with this Recovery Board for about a year. As I was leaving the church, I read all the same books you guys did and that filled up brain space for a while. But I find that now that I am finally "recovered" my mind is curiously quiet, and downright *empty* at times. It's not a bad feeling, really, the quiet. But I find it so odd.
Don't get me wrong, I'm an intelligent person. I'm well educated. I enjoy stimulating conversations with similarly educated close family members. I still love to read. But my mind over the past 8-9 months or so has been strangely quiet and, could I say peaceful? No profound thoughts or cosmic inspirations. Just kind of . . . normal, I guess. I don't know, Is this normal? It's like my mind has stopped racing, I no longer feel stress, guilt, shame, fear (at least relating to church and God).
Now I don't know quite what to fill up my head with since it's suddenly become so empty.
| It sounds like a simple concept. The ability to meet people where they're at. What does it mean?
The ability to meet people where they're at is the ability to treat people with respect for who they are, rather than who I want them to become. So often in Mormonism, I found people who wanted to tell everybody else how to live:
Mormons have their reasons. Do all these things, and you'll be happy later. Sometimes, you might have to defer happiness until after you die. But you'll be happy! Be a different person and you'll be happy. The natural man is the enemy of God.
- You need to get married.
- You need to have a baby.
- You need to have ANOTHER baby.
- You need to go to church.
- You need to study your scriptures.
- You need to go to the temple.
- You need to read the BoM.
- You need to follow the WoW.
I've found the opposite to be true. It is when I am true to myself, I am the happiest. It is when I eat food that I like, listen to music that I like, and do the things that I like that I'm happiest. No, I'm not talking about drunken hedonism and promisuity.
I'm talking about getting to know what makes me happy on the deepest levels, and then pursuing it. Walks in the woods, playing guitar, listening to good music, eating good food, doing volunteer work, and spending time with my wife. All those things make me happy. Reading scriptures, sitting in meetings, paying tithing, home teaching, and going to the temple never made me feel fulfilled. I never felt spiritually fed. I was not doing anything for my fellow man. I was not feeding the hungry or helping the sick.
The truth is, before I went back to the Mormon church as an adult, I was well on the path to finding myself. I was finding the activities and pursuits that made me happy and participating in them. I have been at my happiest in life when I am not telling anybody else what to do and nobody is telling me what to do. I have less stress, less cravings for junk food, and a lot more joy.
How can we get to know people if we are constantly telling them to be someobody else? We might go our whole lives and never get to know people who are standing right in front of us.
The only thing worse is the possibility that we might spend so much time trying to be somebody else that we never get to know ourselves. That is a tragedy in every sense of the word.
| How Easy Was It For You To Give Up The Belief In Satan, Lucifer, The Devil, The Father Of All Lies When Leaving Mormonism? |
Tuesday, Apr 17, 2007, at 08:04 AM
Original Author(s): Susieq#1
Topic: EX-MORMONISM SECTION 16 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Were you like me, raised with the notion (even before I became a convert Mormon) that there was a devil, Satan?
I recall as a young teenager, I attended a church meeting at our local Christian Church with a guest preacher. He was a kind of motivational speaker type preacher, and at one point, he asked: "Where does the devil hang out in Portland? He asked the congregation to submit their ideas in writing to him by a certain time that Sunday and he would discuss them in the 7:00 evening meeting and choose one as the winner.
I turned in my comments to him on the only paper I happened to have, a small notebook that fit in my little purse.
Evening meeting came around and he spent a lot of time reading parts of the many, many entries, some very long, scripturally documented, etc.
I kept waiting for mine. But didn't hear it.
Then at the very end, he said that all the others were fine examples, but only one gave the answer he was looking for and he read mine!
I was just a kid, probably under 15, didn't know the scriptures like the Elders and theologians in the congregation. I was shocked! I think the rest of the congregation was too!
What did mine say? I don't have it, he kept it.
But I still remember that I said something to the effect that the devil didn't hang out in bars and other places in Portland but was found in the minds and hearts of the people.
He called me up to the front of the congregation (I was sitting in the balcony with my teenage friends) and I walked through the large congregation to get my little gift: a little (tack) pin with a tiny gold colored cross on it.
I wore that cross on my beige winter coat lapel for years. They were large lapels in the 50's. But, it disappeared some time after I joined the Mormon Church, got married in the temple, and moved to our first apt.
At the time, I thought it was a "sign" that I had indeed found the "only true church" and was where I was supposed to be. I even recalled the scripture about how the Lord would do nothing except through his prophets, which I believed was the Mormon Church.
Now, of course, I know that the pin was probably was caught on something (a hanger perhaps) when moving my winter clothing to a new apt.and putting it in a hall closet. I didn't notice it was missing until winter when I took it out to wear it some months later.
I had other experiences that led me to believe I was in the "only true church" also, which came predominately from our clandestine kind of Spiritualist beliefs from birth.
Fifty plus years later, I have no concern about my choices. I did what I wanted to do, what I thought was best at the time with the information I had at the time. One set of experiences built on another and another and another until I am looking at the world through a completely different lens. Like my eye glass lenses, my world view has changed over the years. I have need new glasses to see better from time to time, and now, interestingly, the refraction I have now has been constant since I left the Mormon Church !
Maybe it's a "sign." :-)
| "The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" covers some useful techniques. What skeptical thinking boils down to is the means to construct, and to understand a reasoned argument and - especially important - to recognize a fallacious or fraudulent argument.
As handy as carrying a pocket knife:
Chain of Argument
If there's a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise) - not just most of them.
Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.
Is the Hypothesis Falsifiable? [Refutable]
Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified. Propositions that are untestable, unfalsifiable are not worth much. Consider the grand idea that our Universe and everything in it is just an elementary particle - an electron, say - in a much bigger Cosmos. But if we can never acquire information from outside our Universe, is not the idea incapable of disproof? You must be able to check assertions out. Inveterate skeptics must be given the chance to follow your reasoning, to duplicate your experiments and see if they get the same result.
Is this an Argument from Authority?
Arguments from authority carry little weight - "authorities" have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.
Multiple Hypotheses Spin more than one hypothesis.
If there's something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among "multiple working hypotheses,' has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.
This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler.
Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it's yours. It's only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don't, others will.
If whatever it is you're explaining has some measure, some numerical quantity attached to it, you'll be much better able to discriminate among competing hypotheses. What is vague and qualitative is open to many explanations. Of course there are truths to be sought in the many qualitative issues we are obliged to confront, but finding them is more challenging.
Simple enough to apply each day of our lives, to each thought and decision we encounter.
| "BYU is the Lord's University." This was said seriously--by many.
"Joseph Fielding Smith is a prophet of God." Yes, they were serious about the wretched old fraud.
"Bruce McConkie has had his 'calling and election' made sure? How did they know that? How did Bruce know that?
"Going to Relief Society for a few years is the equivalent of a college education." Sorry, its not.
"The Lord wants you to be a home teacher." Knowing what the Lord "wants" again.
"Having sex before marriage is second only to murder?" Really? Murder? Moslems murder people for having that kind of sex. How nutty is all of this?
"Joseph Smith was second in greatness only to Christ." Well of course he was. And he was a General in his own army.
"Zion's Camp was a rehersal for the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo." No, it was not. It was another of Joseph Smith's fuck ups.
"You will never find happiness out of the church." Never found much in the church, to be sure.
"If your son gets his Eagle Scout, Duty to God Award, and goes on a mission, he will never stray." I did not get my Eagle Scout. Must be why I strayed.
"I will never allow one of my daughters to go to BYU if there is a single Negro student there." Harold B. Lee to Ernest Wilkinson
"These young people were valiant in the pre-existence, and were saved to come forth in these last days." Most of the missionaries I knew were just lonely kids who wanted to go home.
"The front door of the Salt Lake Temple is sacred, and cannot be entered by anyone. The same can be said for a woman's vagina." Yes, I really heard that.
"Elder Louie, you don't have the spirit. When I was with Elder X, I felt the spirit, because he had it, and you don't." Turns out Elder X had already fucked a member, and was excommunicated shortly after. But I did not "have the spirit." Maybe I should have fucked a member.
"Look," said the girl I was with, as she pointed to the fiberglass steeple on the Provo temple, "there is the path to heaven." I nearly coughed up a lung.
"Just paying my fire insurance." What a pathetic and ludicrous reason to pay tithing.
"I learn something new each time I go in the temple." What, in God's name, did they learn?
"Peter killed Judas with a sword, so he would 'atone with his blood.'" How do we know that?
"If we were latter-day saints, and not latter-day aint's, God would let us have polygamy again. " Yes, this demented caller on Bob Lonsberry's radio show was serious. What moron wants polygamy? Are some people never embarrassed?
"I thought the Indians were supposed to become 'white and delightsome.'" "Why aren't they 'white and delightsome?'' My apostate uncle taunting my dogmatic mother.
"Whenever I go down the hill on my tube, I say a prayer, and ask Heavenly Father to protect me. If you had done that, you would not have been hurt."
Some pains are in the ass, not all over. My friend was the former.
Yes, I put up with all this. We all did.
| I knew I shouldn’t have watched tonight’s PBS special on the Mormons. It made me intensely sad and I’m having trouble controlling the tears. The story about the Mormon woman who died giving birth to her eighth baby really struck a chord with me. I, too, exhausted myself to create a body for a spirit waiting in heaven. He was a little boy and his name was William.
Married and away from home at the age of eighteen, I found myself pregnant immediately. It wasn’t planned and I was shocked, but ready to take on the responsibility of motherhood. When I saw him on the ultrasound for the first time, I was overcome with emotion. There was my baby. It wasn’t clear if my baby was a boy or a girl, but I didn’t need a picture to let me know. I knew my baby was a boy and that his name was William.
At my five month check-up, there was no heartbeat. An ultrasound was ordered and it was clear that my baby was dead. I was utterly alone. My family was over two thousand miles away and my husband was in the military on a mission and wouldn’t be home for many weeks. I was told by the Navy doctor that I would have a miscarriage soon enough on my own and to go home and wait for it. So I did. I waited and waited. A month passed. No miscarriage. I was in a deep depression away from home and carting around a dead baby. I felt constantly ill. One night I awoke with a fever of one-hundred and six degrees. I knew no one to call and felt too sick to drive, so, shivering and wrapped in blankets, I knocked on my neighbor’s door and told her I thought I was dying.
She kindly drove me to Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego. I don’t remember exactly what happened after that. I know I had a terrible infection and I know they took out my baby. And I was young and stupid and thought for some reason I’d be able to see him afterward. So, after the surgery, I asked the nurse if the baby was a boy. She told me that it was, but that was no surprise to me. I asked if I could see him. She replied, “No, honey! That baby was in no shape to be viewed.” So I asked what they’d done with him and she said, “Well, we disposed of him.”. They disposed of William. They threw away my baby. I was inconsolable but it didn’t matter; there was no one to console me anyway.
After a few days in the hospital I went to my empty apartment and called my Bishop. He gave me a blessing and in it he told me my baby boy needed a perfect body and that Heavenly Father would send him to me again in due time. The comfort I received from that blessing carried me through the next four years until I would have my first successful pregnancy. I had Courtney and was thrilled. But I knew I needed to make a body for William. He’d waited so long for me to finish college. So I got pregnant right away and had a miscarriage. Then I had Madeline. Then a series of many, many miscarriages over the next four years. No pregnancy would stick. There was too much scar tissue from the earlier infection and operation so doctors scraped it out and still I didn’t get pregnant. Finally, after nearly giving up, I had a successful pregnancy and had Chloe. The doctor warned me not to have another baby. She said it was a very bad idea. But William was still waiting.
So against all medical advice, I got pregnant. I knew this was the one. It had to be. Immediately a tumor began forming in my uterus right along with my baby. It had to be removed while I was still pregnant. Unfortunately, I had what I can only describe as some sort of multi-organ breakdown at the same time. My gallbladder became infected and I got terribly sick. It had to be removed. In that operation, an artery was accidentally severed and I lost some blood. They said they gave me seven units, but I really don’t know if that’s a tremendous amount or not, but I do know I was so sick I barely remember the week I spent in the hospital with blood pressure that just would not rise. I recovered just enough after two weeks for them to remove the tumor from my uterus, operating right next to my growing baby.
When I found out I was carrying a girl, I was happy, but pained at the same time. What about William? How would I ever make a body for my baby boy who’d been waiting so long and who had been promised to me in a blessing? My doctor told me my tumor-filled uterus would likely be removed after I delivered the baby. So, I prayed and fasted and cried and prayed some more. After a few months I gave birth to my beautiful little Annie and immediately afterward, just as predicted, my uterus was removed. And my hopes for William went in the garbage right along with it.
For months I grieved my baby boy and finally came to the realization that Heavenly Father would give him to another family. What had I done wrong that my blessing did not come to pass? I always tried to be the best Mormon I could be but that wasn’t enough.
It was almost exactly a year later when I told my husband the church was a fraud. The people in the ward thought I’d lost my mind and had a hormonal imbalance. My husband thought I had postpartum depression. But it was none of those things. I just knew deep down in my heart that Joseph Smith lied and I couldn’t live a lie anymore.
Of course, now I know William was never waiting for another body at all and my Bishop had no authority to tell me he was. William was just a little dead baby in the trash. But sometimes, like tonight after watching “The Mormons” on PBS, I really miss him.
| My dad used to play Johnny Cash on the 8-track player in the truck. I downloaded some songs recently. One of them is "Five Feet High And Rising." It's a story of a flood. At the beginning of each verse, the [child] asks, "How high's the water, mama?" Every verse, the water goes up. "2 feet high and rising." "3 feet high and rising."
It reminds me of how I felt in Mormonism. The water kept rising. Some days I felt like I would drown. It was really a combination of things. Strange ward members who continually tried to put pressure on my wife to get baptized. Even stranger ward members who continually asked inappropriate questions, even after being told to back off.
Then there were the comments priesthood holders made. My bishop once told me in a private interview that my thoughts on the subject of tithing were "interesting but irrelevant."
Then there was the constant pressure of MORE. Mormonism is a religion of more. Give more offerings. Give more time. Have more babies. Go to more meetings. Be more spiritual. It was a game of constant one-upmanship with other members.
Then the lessons. I felt like we were hearing the same message over and over every meeting for years. In sacrament meeting, we'd hear about Joseph Fielding Smith, or a recycled talk that somebody had got from the Ensign, quoting an Apostle who was quoting a former President. It really felt like brainwashing. Maybe I just expected further learning to mean more interesting stuff. The temple was a let-down.
I did everything I was asked, and in the end I found Mormonism was not for me.
Anyway, back to the song. There is a part that is not in the version I have.
My mama always taught me that good things come from adversity if we put our faith in the Lord. We couldn't see much good in the flood waters when they were causing us to have to leave home. But when the water went down, we found that it had washed a load of rich black bottom dirt across our land. The following year we had the best cotton crop we'd ever had.
So even though I felt like Mormonism had dumped a load of you-know-what all over my life, what has come after Mormonism has been a great harvest. I got accepted to the school of my choice, and I graduate in two weeks. My relationship with my wife has grown deeper since I spend my time with her, not trying to magnify my calling. And when I'm with her, I'm not trying to find an 'angle' to convince her to get baptized. It's just the two of us, no religion in the room.
My social life is much better. I can have genuine friends, not assigned friends. I was limited to church friends. Now I have an very diverse set of friends. I have gay friends and friends who drink, for example. When we spend time with friends, there is no gossip about who might be breaking the Word of Wisdom or who might lose their temple recommend, or who is struggling with their testimony. We just enjoy each other's company and learn and grow and laugh. The entertainment world is much more open to me. Movies, music, Sunday activities.
I guess my life is the typical exit narrative. Mormonism was unfulfilling. I left. Life got better.
| Did you remember what it was like to look out with glossy eyes and see the world with “Mormon Glasses” on?
I remember when I was first baptized; I remember being so overcome with emotions – and being told it was the spirit. I remember seeing the world and thinking that the grass that I was now standing on was “greener” than it had before. I remember being carried away in dreams in my own head of the grandiose plan of Salvation and how wonderful it all was to be a part of it. It was like a fairy tale being whisked away on clouds of emotions. Everything was now taken care of. All the answers were answered.
I knew nothing of any doctrine. I had barely read the Book of Mormon. I took the lessons; I was baptized by the missionaries. I was impressed by the ward houses, the families, and the “rich and wealthy” feel of Mormonism. It all “felt” right.
I knew nothing of the temple ordinances, but I was so sure and convinced in my mind that it would be the most beautiful experience of my life. I defended the religion against my “worldly father” who would not accept the true gospel of Jesus Christ. I told him that I would baptize him the minute he died so that he would be a part of the great plan. We stopped talking for the longest time because he would not accept it. He could not fathom the beauty the … Well, you get the picture.
Fast forward many decades later. I know the history. I know what Joseph Smith did. I know about the Book of Abraham. I know the archeological and historical problems. I know that DNA doesn’t match. I know of the polygamy, polyandry and the massacres. I could not stay, I removed my name.
Sometimes I look back upon those early days and into those illusions of grandeur. They were all illusions. Every single one of them. I realize now that Mormonism had taught me that the world had glasses on. I now realize that it was I, who had the glasses on – you know the kind, the ones they put on horses – which you can’t see either right or left, only ahead and not behind.
I apologized to my father years ago, deeply. Now, we just hug and Joseph and his golden bible do not come between us.
| I gather the documentary on the Mormons showed one of the aspects of the cult that infuriated me the most--the refusal to allow members to grow up. The members came across--to many at least--as brainwashed dolts who cannot think for themselves.
Adults work hard, worry about dental bills, hope their kids will get good grades, and then worry about the way their kids work their way through marriage and jobs and life.
Adults like to take a drink now and then, and relax. They don't need to be told they can't do it. Adults like to have some time away from stress, they don't need to add it.
The church seems to think that any attempt to grow up, or grow beyond the larval stage, must be ended quickly.
If you are a Mormon, you come home, gobble down a dinner, and rush to the next meeting. You can't drink, can't spend your money they way you want, and can't relax. You are busy, and you do what you are told. You don't dare do anything that will take you from the pattern the great parent church has established.
When you get a weekend, you must spend Saturday, a "special day," getting ready for Sunday -- that mythical "day of rest." "It is rest in the Lord," my father used to tell me. I recall how restful it was. The only good thing about Sunday was the evening, when then meetings and stress finally ended. Sunday, the wonderful "day of rest," had people reduced to tears, anger, and terrible frustration. It was hell on earth.
The church has managed to keep everyone "humble," or "obedient," or "child like." I recall a Mormon girl who even spoke a form of "baby talk" to show she was a "child of God." Somehow, that was supposed to be spiritual.
I recall a ward choir singing "I am a Child of God" to show "humility" and "child-like obedience." It was nauseating. What is so wonderful about childhood?
Jesus, why can't people be allowed to grow up? When I was a child, I thought as a child, and spoke as a child. When I was a Mormon, I thought as a child, and spoke as a child. There was no goddam difference.
Did the people who watched the show want to revert to childhood again? Not bloody likely.
| I look back and wonder why I was so patient with the church, when it was so very obvious something was terribly wrong. It was always there, and I should have had the brains to put it together much sooner than I did.
Mormonism was always cloaked in secrecy. It was creepy, really, to look at the penchant for hiding things. There was a temple ceremony, which was secret, not sacred. There was a vault where history was hidden. There was a fear of letting the members know how much money the church has, and where its going. So many things kept secret, even if they were called "sacred."
Mormonism is a police state church. There are "courts of love," and threats of "courts of love." There is snitching, spying, and meddling. BYU had a "Security" force that was full of bullies and thugs.
The church was never content with suggestions, or guidelines. They wanted to tell you what to wear, what to read, what to think, what to eat, what to drink, and what to do with your money.
They wanted to pry into you most personal life, and had interviews set up to scare and depress 14 year old weenie crankers. This was not religion. This was a police state, and it was full of guilt and fear and self-loathing.
The church was never content to exercise control over just its members. It wanted that control expanded, and still does. The church controls liquor laws, land ownership, and zoning laws. They went after the MX missile and the ERA.
They have considerable influence, and they love to use it.
Fascination with Image
Mormonism always works itself into a frenzy over image. BYU runs on the "clean cut" image, and the fascination with dark suits and white shirts is also image based. Mormons like large buildings (like other cults) and projects that bring "positive attention." They will kill to keep the image of being prosperous, clean, and righteous. Image always trumps the feelings and needs of the people.
Mormons still had lots of anger and grievances when I was growing up. They were angry--still--about the days in "the east," when they were driven from state to state. What was never mentioned was that it was not just one-sided. There might have been a reason for the "failure to communicate." Missouri, in particular, had it coming. Boy, God had it in for Missouri. They would get it, and "the saints" would be there to see it. It was going to be special.
Obsession with Liars
To Mormons, everyone was a "liar." Negative press was all "lies." Books about the church were "full of lies" unless they were totally flattering. Figures from the Mormon past were "liars," or "evil seducers." I recall my father's anger with John C. Bennett. Bennett probably was an "evil seducer." He learned it from Joseph Smith, one of the best in that field.
I recall the quote from Joseph Fielding Smith's "Essentials in Church History." "The 'Salt Lake Tribune' was brought into the world to lie, and it has remained faithful to its purpose." Everyone was "liar' unless they were full of flattery.
Resistance to Learning
Mormonism has always feared real learning. There is a very powerful anti-intellectual streak in the church. The reason, of course, is the fear that the members will find out the truth. There is no shortage of things to read, of course. "Desert Book" excretes huge numbers of books.
Mormons have their own novels, and their own fanciful versions of history. Its a great system, and it keeps people from thinking.
It was always there to see. I let it go a long time, because I wanted to believe the lies-- instead of my eyes. What a sap I was.
| As we all know the LDS church tells its' members to base their lives on the feelings of the spirit not on facts or rational argument. Since the early days of my enlightenment I have been able to see how flawed this is.
As I struggled with new found facts that conflicted with my feeling I faced a struggle between to sets of conditioning. One the Mormon set and one the secular set which demanded reasoned argument. My breaking point in terms of faith came when I realised that faith cannot withstand fact. That at some point the evidence against an idea could become so compelling that an alternative conclusion was outwith the bounds of rationality.
Having come to the decision that Mormonism could not possibly be true based on the evidence presented and that to have continued to believe, in-spite of the facts, would be irrational, I have not really looked for nor stumbled into any alternative faith. However I have had religious experiences since my departure from the LDS church.
For several months after my departure, whilst still hesitant about my decision I lived with my Grandmother. My Grandmother is a life long Catholic, and over the years had educated herself in her faith. I consider her to understand Catholicism better than most. So many catholics fail to realise that they belong to a church based on a coherent theology that has been built up over thousands of years. Instead of seeking that out they get caught up in the superstitious and outward elements of the faith. Not dis-similar to the way many Mormons are - appearances being everything.
For months I attended Mass with her and actually quite enjoyed it. I enjoyed actually hearing about the teaching of Christ who at the very least has an inspiring philosophy even if I cannot decide if I can believe he is the son of god. It was refreshing to hear about his teachings and not those of a bigoted hick with masturbation on the mind or some other LDS prophet. I did start to take some comfort in the rituals too, I don't know what it is about human nature but rituals do seem to do something for many of us.
I noticed how I felt the same warm fuzzies that I always thought had been the spirit at mass. My Mormon thought patterns told me that this was because they must have been talking about something true, but even when discussing things which the LDS church oppose, like reciting the Nicene Creed I felt the same fuzzies. Brilliant I thought, and took this as evidence that warm fuzzies meant nothing, a position I still hold.
A further confirmation of my anti fuzzies resolve came last week. I was visiting a friend from uni. The last time I had seen her was on her wedding day, about a year ago. At the wedding I again felt these fuzzies. The wedding was a full Wedding Mass led by my friend's parish priest. His performance was wonderful, aided by the choir that my friend and her husband had hired for the ocassion.
The Priest who I thought was so wonderful is sitting in the dock of the High Court in Edinburgh being cross examined over the murder of a young polish woman who had been living at the priest's church. He admitted to having has sex with the girl, to being an alcholic and having had numerous affairs. As it turns out the prist was not the murderer, but his actions and reactions surrounding the murder in his church were less than valient and not befitting a man of the cloth. It was his negligence and his refusual to look into the backgrounds of those to whom he opened his doors which led to this death.
All the events took mentioned in court happened around the time of the wedding. My friend even joked last week that now she knows why he was so late for the ceremony. So my point is that the warm fuzzies show nothing. If I can get warm fuzzies from a wedding mass from a man not maintaining his vows and who's behaviour surrounding a murder was suspect to say the least then it shows nothing.
Feelings are unreliable, clouded by emotion and certainly not influenced by god. They can be manipulated by the silver tongued and through flattery, or even in the case of this priest,(and perhaps like Joseph Smith) by a good showman.
| It took me many years to learn to face problems promptly while they were still manageable.
Why? Because mormonism trained me to smile, to go along and get along, and to assume problems would solve themselves if I was worthy enough to be favored of the Lord.
Most everyone has pushy people at work who push their personal agendas or overstep their authority.
Many of us have had neighbors with children who trample our flower beds or borrow our kids' wagon without permission.
Some of us have mishies or local ward members who harass us at work or stalk our children behind our backs.
When these things happen, it usually works best to speak up clearly from the getgo. This is the honest way to let others know where we and they stand. Waiting too long often makes things worse, not better.
Silly, isn't it? Whenever anyone mistreated me, I assumed I was somehow at fault for not being sufficiently worthy about something illusive in my life. Facing and dealing with a social problem was admitting I wasn't perfect, that I couldn't smile my way out of it, and that I wasn't understanding enough to accomodate the needs of others and (shudder) be an example. (As if that would somehow control the behavior of others. LOL)
The result? Problems in my life sometimes festered until they exploded. I would hold them in and finally overreact and shock everyone around me. This is all I knew from being in the mormon church and from a BIC family. It was a bad system.
Sometime in my 30s and 40s, I figured it out. Better to speak up quickly at the first sign of a problem while it's small and everyone is in a good mood and fresh for compromise.
Change isn't easy, but this system works. If you have trouble with comfrontation or controversy, you might try it and see if it works for you, too.
| Mother's Day resulted in a minor breakdown for my wife. We got a mini-lecture from my Father-in-law regarding a talk he gave that day in church on "Mothers in Israel." He spoke about some of the important women in his life, and how each of them taught their children about the importance of sacrificing EVERYTHING for the church (those were his words). And then, looking at my wife, he talked about the importance of his own daughters carrying on that legacy, being mothers in Israel, teaching their own children that same virtue.
Of course, he knows full well that our children are not marrying in the temple, that we hold no callings, and that our sons are not going on missions.
The breakdown occurred later that evening, as my wife, through sobs, expressed the pain of knowing that she is a "disappointment" to her father. No matter what good she accomplishes; no matter how wonderful our children are; no matter how happy and strong our own marriage is, all that matters to her parents is that we couldn't do it...we couldn't endure to the end, sacrifice it all for the church, and in that regard, we are a disappointment. Not "bad", just a failure.
I don't know anyone who wants to be perceived as a disappointment to their parents.
This is the agony that faithful members of the church simply cannot understand. We have them visit us here periodically on the forum, challenging us on why it hurts to leave the church, and how everyone is free to believe whatever they want, the church doesn't hold a gun to anyone's head and make them attend or pay their tithing, blah, blah, blah. They have no idea what the real pain is. It's not their fault--they have not had this experience, and from their perspective, it makes no sense. They simply cannot wrap their minds around that which is not real to them.
The real pain is in the knowledge that in the eyes of your faithful Mormon friends and family members, you have failed. You don't measure up. They may continue to love you, but now you are the prodigal child. You have strayed from the fold, soiled the family name, and because they are good and righteous people, they will continue to extend their love to you, but now it is out of pity, not respect.
It no longer matters the quality of your character. It no longer matters the quality of family you raise, the quality of life you live, the love you extend to others, the accomplishments you achieve, the things you learn, the lives you touch...all that matters is that you failed. You are a disappointment to your parents, to the church, and ultimately to God.
A faithful Mormon can never understand that...
...but you can. That's probably why you're here.
It's why I am.
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